30 Nov 2018

The Australian giant cuttlefish (sepia apama) are impressive animals that can change their patterns and colours in an instant – often to impress females during mating season.

The giant cuttlefish can grow up to 50 cm long and over 10.5 kgs, and is found mostly on the southern coast of Australia but also in our warm Whitsunday waters. They are a cephalopod, like octopuses and squids, and have the ability to change their skin colour rapidly! This incredible ability is due to special cells called chromatophores and iridophores, the cuttlefish changes its skin colour or pattern by contracting or relaxing its muscles, causing the skin pigment to increase or decrease. They can avoid predators by camouflaging themselves and also to communicate with other cuttlefish. Aggressive male cuttlefish have been seen with flashing zebra stripes!

With a life-span of one to two years, the giant cuttlefish inhabit seagrass beds, rocky reefs, and sand and mud seafloor up to 100 m deep.

During mating season (winter),  the male cuttlefish will put on an impressive display for his potential female mate, rapidly changing vibrant colours and striking patterns, but unfortunately usually die shortly after spawning and brooding.