In 2011 I went diving with the Australian Giant Cuttlefish. In 2012 they did not come back. In a spirit of cargo cults and magical thinking, we’re going to have a week or so of cuttlefish: perhaps, if we wish hard enough, a critical concentration of photo and video will bring them back from wherever they have gone.
The previous cuttlefish post didn't have much to interest the cuttlefish - it was about things that were going on above the water.
Into the water, then. We were five on the dive - two instructors, myself, and two lovely young women from Melbourne visiting Adelaide for business purposes, who were driving the 8 hours to Whyalla and back to Adelaide in a day so that they could do the dive. We kitted up, walked down the refinery fence-line into the water, winced on account of the seriously cold temperature of the water, followed the fence out until we were chest deep, and we put on our masks and dipped below the surface.
And there the cuttlefish were - hundreds of them. Just hanging out. Swimming languidly around the rocks, you know? As they do. Loitering, paying errands, going visiting, courting, mating, laying down their eggs underneath the rocks, and flashing our cameras with multi-spectrum shows of interactive color gradation.
The cuttlefish are terribly inquisitive about us- as much as we are about them, I suspect. If you float still, just above the bottom , they'll come right over to you. We were told not to let them come closer than 2 inches of our bodies because they will bite - on spec, just to see if we taste any good, I suspect.
Immediately on entering the water I came across a very large feller - not so large as the giants Dr Tabubil and I saw on our dive - perhaps only two feet across. I stopped to take a photograph - as one does - and as I focused, less and less of him was fitting in the frame. He had decided to come up and say hello. I had an awful lot of trouble with that all through the dive - half my photographs are blurred and out of focus because the subjects were determined to be on the other side of the camera, sort of the way a really determined labrador retriever will try and say hello by seeing what the back of your head looks like on the way over the top from the front.
Back on shore after the dive, while I raved about one of my closer close encounters, one of the of the other girls laughed and said "I saw that! I was trying to get your attention - while you were looking at that cuttlefish, there was another, smaller one sheltering in the curve of your knee!"
A curious cuttlefish looks in:
And draws in his arms in consideration:
And now, a taste of cuttlefish home life. Here a male guards a female while she lays his eggs under a rock. As she emerges, he makes his position clear and rippling patterns begin to flare across his mantle: