Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Australian Giant Cuttlefish Sepia apama
Of about 100 cuttlefish species, the Australian giant cuttlefish is the largest. Like all cuttlefish, it has a flattened body and an internal shell, known as the cuttle and familiar to many as budgerigar food. This species lives for up to three years and gathers in huge numbers to breed. Male Australian giant cuttlefish have elaborate courtship displays, which involve hovering in the water while making rapid, kaleidoscopic changes of color, as the male shown here is doing. When a female is receptive, the male deposits a sperm package in a pouch under her mouth. This later bursts, releasing sperm and fertilizing her 200 or more golf-ball-sized eggs, which she then deposits on a hard substrate. The cuttlefish eggs hatch into miniature adults after several months.