Each winter the Australian Giant Cuttlefish congregate in the shallow waters of Whyalla, South Australia.
Not only is it the only known congregation of these animals in the world but it is easily accessed from the shore with the breeding ground averaging around 3m deep.
Beginning in May, this courtship is made up of pulsating patterns and an array of bright colours.
Like most things in the animal world (well, in the human world too..) mating is very competitive, usually big is best and males will defend "their" female(s) until death-do-they-part. However, the small males have a nifty trick up their 10 sleeves to sidestep the competition. They disguise themselves as females, yep thats right, they quite literally crossdress by pulling in their longer tentacles and changing their colours. This enables them to slip past the large males undetected and they can quickly mate with the female.
Research has shown that this tactic is very effective with females mating with small males twice as often as the large guys. Now either the females value a metro-cephalapod or they like a guy with brains!
Hundreds and thousands of these Giant Cuttlefish will do not-much-else than mate and lay eggs until September when sadly, most will die from exhaustion.
But don't worry, by this stage the females have stashed their eggs in a safe place and they will hatch as mini adults ready to take on the world!
I have been told by many other divers that diving the Giant Cuttlefish is one of the most amazing displays they have seen.. if your game enough to brave the 13 degree waters. And game I am, with the Sarah Shark team heading down to South Australia to film Episode 2 on the 16th of this month we'll be stopping by to see the cross-dressing fellas for ourselves.
I'de love to hear from anyone who has been or who has heard about it. Especially some advice on keeping warm!
Sarah Shark www.sarahshark.com