Stayin’ Alive – Last dance for ‘disco’ cuttlefish?

Adelaide-based documentary filmmakers Dan and Emma Monceaux believe that Disco Cuttlefish, this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival mascot, should be delivering a critical environmental message. ‘Stobie’ the Disco Cuttlefish is a 13 metre long illuminated audio-visual parade float produced by Adelaide Fringe Festival and inspired by the Giant Australian Cuttlefish. Meanwhile, the animal’s Northern Spencer Gulf population, which breeds at Point Lowly, faces the imminent threat of local extinction.

Disco Cuttlefish on Rundle Street during Adelaide Fringe 2014

Disco Cuttlefish on Rundle Street during Adelaide Fringe 2014


The Monceaux’s have been closely following the decline of the population, which has plummeted from over 170,000 in the late 1990’s to approximately 13,500 in 2013. The causes of the decline remain unclear, but the animals are reducing in size as well as in number, suggesting a potential early life stage developmental issue.

After receiving information on the population’s status and various threats from the Monceauxs, the Adelaide Fringe Parade’s Associate Producer Tessa Leon stated that providing an environmental message was not their focus. The Adelaide Fringe Festival has also avoided revealing the cost of the project, which includes design, construction, operation, choreography, public dance workshops, five Saturday night performances with a dance troupe and its Adelaide Fringe Parade premiere.

Disco Cuttlefish after the Adelaide Fringe Parade 2014

Disco Cuttlefish after the Adelaide Fringe Parade 2014


While ‘Stobie’ waves its tentacles and flashes coloured patterns down Adelaide streets, dancers perform to disco hits of the 1970’s, including an ironic choice: ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by The Beegees.

“The Fringe has taken the Giant Australian Cuttlefish as their mascot, but rejected any responsibility for drawing attention to their plight,” says Dan Monceaux.

“The Northern Spencer Gulf population is at its lowest ever recorded. I’m concerned that the Disco Cuttlefish will trivialise what is potentially our State’s greatest environmental shame.”

With known industrial pollution in the region emanating from the Whyalla steelworks, Port Bonython gas fractionation plant, former aquaculture operations and export shipping activities ‘Stayin’ Alive’ will prove to be a struggle for the Giant Australian Cuttlefish.

The challenge of survival will only become greater if the proposed Port Bonython iron ore wharf and BHP Billiton desalination plant are constructed as planned, adjacent to their breeding reef.

Stobie has his own account on Twitter: @DiscoCuttlefish

Complaints and comments can be directed to @Adelaide_Fringe on Twitter, or by phone or email via the event’s Contact Page.

You can also generate your own meme featuring Stobie the Disco Cuttlefish at MemeGenerator.


Dan Monceaux is a South Australian documentary filmmaker and the director of Cuttlefish Country.

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