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Common Species

Dusky Flathead

duskyflathead

Distribution - Dusky flathead are found in estuaries and coastal bays, from Cairns in Queensland to the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria. They occur over sand, mud, gravel and seagrass and can inhabit estuarine waters up to the tidal limit. They are more commonly caught during the summer months.

Size - Maximum 15kg and a length of 1.5m.

Characteristics - Colour varies from sandy with brown spots and blotches to dark brown/black with white spots. They have a distinctive black spot on their caudal fins. Dark bars are often visible across the rear of the body. The preopercular spines on each side of the head are very sharp and should be avoided when handling the fish.

Confusing species - Distinguished from other flathead by the black spot at the caudal end of the tail.

Garfish

garfish

Distribution: Sea garfish are endemic only to Australian waters and live in sheltered bays, clear coastal waters and some estuaries to waters about 20m deep. These fish school near the surface at night and over weed and seagrass beds during the day.

Size: Known to attain 40cm total length.

Characteristics: These fish are a pale, greenish blue on the back and upper sides and have a blue edged silver band along the sides. They also have three narrow brown lines along the back, above the silver band.

Confusing species: Other species of garfish, but are distinguished by their three brown bands along their back.

Flounder

flounder

Distribution: Various species inhabit NSW waters including the large-toothed and small-toothed Flounder that are found throughout as well as long-snouted and greenback flounder, found in southern NSW. They are commonly found in bays and estuaries on sandy or silty bottoms.

Size: These fish range in total length about from 34cm to approx. 55cm.

Characteristics: These fish are laterally flattened bottom dwellers with both eyes on one side. They have distinct colouration such as spots, irregular blotches and rings on one side of their body with the other being pale.

Confusing species: Flounder are often misidentified as sole.

Leatherjacket

leatherjacket

Distribution – There are more than 20 species of leatherjackets found throughout NSW waters and, depending on the species, can be caught in estuarine, coastal and offshore waters to depths of 250m or more. In estuarine waters these fish are often found around artificial structures such as pylons and wharfs or are found near seagrass beds e.g. fan-belly, six spine and rough leatherjackets. In coastal and offshore areas they can be found on rocky reefs, sand/mud bottom or in sponge beds e.g. six spine, yellow-finned, black reef, velvet and chinaman leatherjackets.

Size – Are generally found under 1kg in weight but some offshore species can grow to 3kg.

Characteristics – Several features set leatherjackets apart from other fish species, these include: a small mouth with beak-like teeth, rough sometimes sandpaper like skin, small gill openings, and a single serrated spine on the top of the head that fits neatly into a groove. Most leatherjackets are considered opportunistic feeders and readily feed on many different items including algae, crustaceans, molluscs, fish and polychaete worms.

Confusing species - could be confused with Triggerfish, however these fish have a dorsal fin rather than a single, serrated dorsal spine.

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