Squid Cuttlefish Interaction Behavior Sequence

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​Each winter thousands of Giant Australian Cuttlefish migrate to a specific strip of shallow rocky coastline at the tip of Spencer Gulf in South Australia. As the water temperatures decrease, more cuttlefish arrive. Throughout June and July, males actively guard females nested close to the best ledges for egg laying. Males constantly ward off competitive males. By putting on spectacular displays and expanding their size, these large males can intimidate smaller ones to a point they will move away.

Cuttlefish lay eggs on the underside of rocky ledges and scientists think this is one of the reasons that the cuttlefish keep coming back to this exact strip of rocky coastline each year. In late May, the first cuttlefish arrive in the area. At this stage, the cuttlefish sneak around blending in with the seaweed, scouting for the best egg laying sites.

As the water temperatures decrease, more cuttlefish arrive. Throughout June and July, males actively guard females nested close to the best ledges for egg laying. They are constantly warding off competitive males. By putting on spectacular displays and expanding their size, these large males can intimidate smaller ones to a point they will move away. By late August, most of the egg laying sites are full and the cuttlefish are worn out to the point of exhaustion.

Last year, I was filming the cuttlefish aggregation when I noticed some peculiar behaviour by some passing cephalopod relatives of the cuttlefish.. squid were in the area too! Patiently, I waited – tracking the squid’s behaviour from a distance. I crept closer breathing ever so slowly, trying not to disturb their movements. The squid seemed to be particularly interested in the smaller, weaker female cuttlefish which weren’t receiving as much attention from the larger males.

A small ‘squadron’ the Southern Calamari seemed to “gang up” on one poor cuttlefish. It appeared as though other cuttlefish tried to fend off the squid, but they didn’t seem bothered. After observing the interactions for about 20 minutes, things eventually got really weird. To my surprise, one of the more courageous squid right up to the isolated female cuttlefish, flipped upside down and launched a mating attempt on the cuttlefish.
Male cuttlefish and squid pass sperm in small packets and pass them to females. It’s then up to the female if she selects this sperm to fertilise her eggs before laying.

Cinematography by Stefan Andrews