Cuttlefish opportunity

DIVE IN: Tourism and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell enjoyed swimming with the cuttlefish on Wednesday.
DIVE IN: Tourism and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell enjoyed swimming with the cuttlefish on Wednesday.

The population of South Australia’s iconic Giant Australian Cuttlefish is continuing to increase, attracting visitors to Point Lowly and boosting tourism in the northern Spencer Gulf region.

Tourism and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell swam with the iconic Cuttlefish on Wednesday – with the marine icon have increased in numbers from 13,000 to 177,000 during the past three years.

Mr Bignell said the Giant Australian Cuttlefish are an important opportunity for Whyalla to generate much needed tourism in the area.

“The colours underwater were just amazing, they light up spectacularly during their mating rituals,” he said.

“This is the only place in the world where you can see this, one day we are hoping to have boats with glass bottoms here to allow visitors to view the cuttlefish without having to get wet.”

Mr Bignell said the state government had been working with local tourism operators to ensure they ‘get the support they need’ to keep attracting visitors to the region.

“We know how important they are – not just environmentally – but for the region’s visitor economy so we will continue to monitor these incredible animals at Point Lowly,” he said.

Each winter, tens of thousands of Giant Australian Cuttlefish gather on a reef in the northern Spencer Gulf to spawn. It is the only known dense aggregation the world.

A working group was established in July 2012 to coordinate a response to concerns about the falling population and a 2013 survey showed the annual spawning aggregation had declined by about 90 percent over 13 years.

The research is being led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDl).

 The state government, through the South Australian Tourism Commission and DEWNR, also recently met with key stakeholders and tourism operators in Whyalla.

In the 12 months to March 2016, more than 400,000 intrastate, interstate and international tourists visited the Eyre Peninsula, with hopes for the number to rise.