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  • Lisa

Snorkelling with Giant Cuttlefish in Whyalla

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Every winter in the crystal-clear waters off the coastal town of Whyalla in South Australia, thousands of Australian Giant Cuttlefish come to mate in a mesmerising display of colour and movement.

You don’t need to SCUBA dive or go on a glass bottom boat tour to see these beautiful cephalopods (although you can do both!) - you can snorkel with them right off the beach!

Snorkelling offers an unforgettable opportunity to see them up close and it is a really fun activity for the whole family.

The Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia Apama) are one of the largest species of cuttlefish in the world, weighing up to 10kg. They have the ability to change color, texture and pattern on their skin, and when they come to Whyalla to mate they give the performance of a lifetime. Males are vastly outnumbered so competition is fierce and they generally only have one or two seasons to breed, so they really do give it their all!

They mate by linking their eight arms and two tentacles for head-to-head contact, and the males put their sperm packages into the females mouth to fertilise her eggs. She then lays the eggs and attaches them to a safe place in the rocks here near Whyalla, and in 3-5 months they hatch. They head out on their solitary journey to sea, knowing to come back to Whyalla the following year to breed.

Being winter, the water is very cold, so if you want to snorkel here you will need proper equipment. We hired all our gear from Whyalla Diving Services.

You need to book a time for getting kitted up at their shop in town, and it takes way longer than you’d expect. Getting four of us into body liners, wetsuits, hooded vests and hoods, neoprene boots, gloves, masks, snorkels and fins took almost an hour!

We got changed at the shop and then drove straight to the snorkel site, to save getting undressed and dressed again, and that worked well. Hire is for 2 days, and getting dressed into the cold, wet gear on the second day wasn’t fun, but as soon as you are dressed, you are toastie warm and it surprised me how long we were able to stay in the icy water.

The best place to snorkel is at Stony Point, which is about 25 minutes drive from the dive shop. Stony Point has change rooms, toilets and a shower, and when we went, there was also a coffee van ready to help you warm up after your swim.

You don’t need to go out far from shore to start seeing the cuttlefish, they start appearing at about one metre deep, and as you go out to the deeper water there are actually fewer as they like the rocky section just off shore.

The wetsuits give you great buoyancy, so even if you are not a strong swimmer, you will not find it difficult to just float and watch them do their dance. The cuttlefish have absolutely zero interest in snorkellers, they have their mind on the prize, so you watch them for as long as you like, although please don’t touch or harass them!

Snorkelling with the giant cuttlefish really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we thoroughly recommend! The way they dance and change colours, shapes and textures is awesome, and being able to see it with our own eyes was incredible!


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