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Giant Cuttlefish: Love is in the Air

Under water, many creatures blend into their background, either to hide themselves from predators or be a predator and strike from an ambush.

The same goes for cuttlefish. They are masters of camouflage, and can even change their skin structure to mimic their surroundings: true chameleons of the sea!

As I did a trip that was apply named as a ‘Lions, Dragons, Giants and Shark Tour’ with sea lions, sea dragons and great whites, I was really looking forward to the ‘giant’ part: The annual migration of the Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) to the waters of the upper Spencer Gulf near Whyalla to breed is one of the most spectacular natural events in the  Australian marine environment and unique in the world. 
Though we do have cuttlefish in the Netherlands, the aggregation in Australia is much larger.

In between mating and depositing the eggs between the coral, the cuttlefish tend to take on their ‘normal camouflage pattern.

It is therefore best to wait until the animals interact to capture the majestic mating patterns on your image. They get this during the actual mating, but also when there are males around that try to take their chances with a female that is depositing eggs, fertilized by the male of her choice.

I made several shots that I liked, drifting towards and away from the cuttlefish, so they would just continue what they were doing. When mating, they are quite unshakeable, but I hate to interrupt a natural process. Every now and then, an avid ‘bachelor’ tried to sneak upon a lady from behind my back. In this shot, I just love the patterns. The male fully extends his arms to protect the female from competitors..

Another great advice: lower your camera regularly to enjoy the spectacle. Commercial fishing almost destroyed this world class phenomenon, therefore the cuttlefish are protected during their breeding season between May and August. 

Population trend for mature individuals is still decreasing… enjoy the beauty of our oceans as long as you can…

Photo data

  • 1/250 sec
  • F/11
  • ISO 800
  • Camera: Nikon D500
  • Lens: Nikon 10.5m fisheye
  •  Subal underwaterhousing

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All images © Peter Verhoog 2000-2018

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