S. apama is native to the southern coast of Australia, from Brisbane in Queensland to Shark Bay in Western Australia. It occurs on rocky reefs, seagrass beds, and sand and mud seafloor to a depth of 100 m.
Breeding takes place with the onset of the southern winter. Males abandon their normal cryptic colouring and set out to dazzle the females by adopting rapidly changing bright colours and striking patterns. Devious males mimic female colouring and form in order to gain access to females protected by dominant males. Females are polyandrous, and collaborative research indicates the tendency for females to reproduce using male genetic material deposited in spermatangia more favorably than in sperm receptacles directly. Death follows shortly after mating and laying of eggs that will spawn the next generation.
Physiology and biochemistry
A recent energetics study found that Sepia apama are primarily diurnal and have a small home range (90–550 meters) over short recording periods. They are able to channel most of their energy directly into growth because they spend 95% of the day resting, suggesting bioenergetics more like that of an octopus than a squid. Very little time is spent foraging (3.7% during the day and 2.1% during the night), most of their time is spent resting and hiding in crevices from predators. The exception to this behavioral routine is the mass spawning aggregation, where cuttlefish are far more active during the days or weeks that they spend there.
Role in ecosystem
The Australian Giant Cuttlefish is eaten by Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, which have been observed (in South Australia's Spencer Gulf) to have developed a technique for removing the ink and cuttlebone from a cuttlefish before eating it.
- ^ Reid, A., P. Jereb, & C.F.E. Roper 2005. Family Sepiidae. In: P. Jereb & C.F.E. Roper, eds. Cephalopods of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of species known to date. Volume 1. Chambered nautiluses and sepioids (Nautilidae, Sepiidae, Sepiolidae, Sepiadariidae, Idiosepiidae and Spirulidae). FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 4, Vol. 1. Rome, FAO. pp. 57–152.
- ^ Norman, M.D. 2000. Cephalopods: A World Guide. ConchBooks.
- ^ Hanlon, R.T. 2008. Australian Giant Cuttlefish - Physiology and Biochemistry. Encyclopedia of Life.
- ^ Aitken, J.P., R.K. O'Dor & G.D. Jackson. 2005. The secret life of the giant Australian cuttlefish Sepia apama (Cephalopoda): Behaviour and energetics in nature revealed through radio acoustic positioning and telemetry (RAPT). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 320: 77–91.
- ^ Catch cuttlefish, drain off the ink, then fillet. Serves five (dolphins): Scientists stunned by mammals' elaborate culinary preparations