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Dive into Whyalla Cuttlefest: Witness the spectacular underwater cuttlefish migration

Abbie Tiller

Each winter, South Australia’s Spencer Gulf hosts one of the world’s most unique and spectacular wildlife events

Picture a quarter of a million Australian Giant Cuttlefish, out to impress with their most vibrant “courtship” colours, all headed to the yearly pick-up point – the cold and rocky seabeds of the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park, off of Whyalla. It’s the only place in the world where cuttlefish congregate annually en masse with such great predictability. Like a giant singles fest, they come here to spawn, and their underwater light shows, cunning games and dramatic colour displays, not only attract a mate, but also the attention of the world, with international film crews, underwater photographers, divers, researchers and journalists making the pilgrimage to Whyalla to witness the incredible natural wonder.

Giant Cuttlefish at Stony Point, Eyre Peninsula. PIC - Carl Charter
Giant Cuttlefish at Stony Point, Eyre Peninsula. PIC – Carl Charter

Cuttlefest celebrates the Cephalopod

The City of Whyalla welcomes the colourful cephalopod each year, celebrating the magical migration with a giant festival of their own.

As the largest species of cuttlefish congregate (some weighing up to 5kg), Whyalla’ annual Cuttlefest begins, running from May right through until August, providing an array of opportunities to witness the phenomenon first-hand.

You can brave the chilly winter water, commemorate the ‘Sepia Apama’ through art, witness the spectacle on board a glass-bottom boat or kayak and enjoy a host of other cuttlefish-themed activities.

Proudly celebrating and sharing the rare cuttlefish congregation with the world, the Spencer Gulf community is also passionate about the protection of  the ‘chameleons of the sea’. Their championing of the cuttlefish has led to the species now being officially protected by a permanent fishing ban, and in 2023 the Cuttlefish Coast Sanctuary Zone was added to the National Heritage List along with Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef.

With the Whyalla cuttlefish season now a globally recognised phenomenon, upgrades to the Point Lowly dive site have recently been undertaken, to keep the increasing number of human visitors and migrating cuttlefish safe and give an optimal experience for everyone.

Suit up and dive in or get onboard a glass bottom boat

Whyalla Diving Services offers an incredible opportunity to swim with the Australian Giant Cuttlefish. In small groups, you can snorkel or dive with a trained guide, experiencing the rare site that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. You can also hire everything you need including a snorkel kit and wet suit to help keep the chill out.

The not-so-brave adventurers can stay warm and dry and view the underwater show aboard Cuttys Glass Bottom Boat Tours .

Or paddle your own glass bottom kayak and discover the underwater world with Spencer Gulf Adventures, who offer loads of adventures, from cuttlefish experiences, to seal spotting, dolphin cruising and an on-land tour of the Whyalla Steelworks.

Experience Marine Sanctuaries also have accredited guides and marine biologists offering a range of Cuttlefest activities, from snorkelling classes to cuttlefish dives, educational programs and an incredible on-land cuttlefish experience.

The Salty Sea’Esta will be held in Whyalla’s Ada Ryan Gardens on June 8, from 3pm-8pm.

The City goes Wild for Cuttlefest

To add to the celebrations of the majestic mating mecca, Whyalla City Council supports a variety of events and exhibitions for locals and tourists to enjoy.
Cuttlefest Art Prize, with a prize pool of $2700, is open to residents of Whyalla, from kindy kids to older art lovers. The marine-based artwork will be on display at the Middleback Arts Centre throughout June and July.
A Cuttlefest Underwater and Marine Photography Exhibition will also be a draw card for visitors, and everyone is invited to celebrate all things Cuttlefish at the family-friendly, Salty Sea’esta, in the Ada Ryan Gardens on Saturday June 8.
So what are you waiting for? Click here to find out everything you need to know about Whyalla Cuttlefest and plan your epic Cuttlefest adventure today!





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