February 26, 2024

Truly Giant Cuttlefish in False Bay, South Australia

By Sara E. Pratt, NASA Earth Observatory
October 19, 2021

September 8, 2021
On September 8, 2021, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this natural-color picture of False Bay on Eyre Peninsula. When strong winds churn shallow parts of the gulf, the light-colored swirls in the water are triggered by sediment brought to the surface area. These waters draw both scuba divers (to the famed Stony Point cuttlefish dive website, west of the wharf) and commercial fishers– one group hoping to see the ornate cephalopods and the other intending to capture them.
Giant Cuttlefish.
In 2013, after the cuttlefish population had decreased by 90 percent over the previous decade, a fishing ban was executed across the northern reaches of Spencer Gulf. In 2020, that exemption zone was scaled back, primarily to False Bay, after reports that the population had rebounded from less than 20,000 cuttlefish to about 250,000. The existing exemption zone stretches across False Bay from the Point Lowly Lighthouse in the east, across the idea of the Port Bonython wharf, to the jetty in the port town of Whyalla.
Because the early 1900s, Whyalla has actually been a center of iron ore mining, steel production, and ship structure. Today, efforts to balance the economic interests of the region with the health and sustainability of the cuttlefish population continue. To promote Whyalla “as a year-round destination valued for its recreation, environment and way of life experiences,” the city is now developing a Cuttlefish Coast Sanctuary Tourism & & Conservation Project, which is expected to be completed in 2023.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat information from the U.S. Geological Survey.

These waters draw both scuba divers (to the well known Stony Point cuttlefish dive site, west of the wharf) and commercial fishers– one group hoping to capture a glance of the elaborate cephalopods and the other hoping to capture them.
In 2013, after the cuttlefish population had declined by 90 percent over the previous years, a fishing ban was executed throughout the northern reaches of Spencer Gulf. The existing exclusion zone extends across False Bay from the Point Lowly Lighthouse in the east, throughout the pointer of the Port Bonython wharf, to the jetty in the port town of Whyalla.
Today, efforts to balance the economic interests of the region with the health and sustainability of the cuttlefish population continue.

September 8, 2021
Spencer Gulf in South Australia hosts the worlds biggest cuttlefish mass generating event.
Each winter season from May to August, thousands of Australian giant cuttlefish ( Sepia apama) make their method to False Bay, northwest of Adelaide along the coast of South Australia. In this bay at the head of Spencer Gulf, the chilly water and rocky seafloor provide prime conditions for the largest recognized mass spawning event, or “aggregation,” of cuttlefish worldwide.
Growing to almost a meter long, the Australian giant cuttlefish is the largest of these distinct cephalopods. With unique skin cells called chromatophores, cuttlefish are masters of disguise– capable of quickly changing the color, pattern, and even texture of their skin. They do this to camouflage themselves from predators, attract mates, or enthrall victim.