The Long-headed Flathead is best identified by the distinctive markings of spots, blotches and lines on the dorsal and caudal fins, as well as its relatively long head in relation to its body, which is elongate and flattened. They have crocodile-shaped bodies with broad pectoral and pelvic fins, and are related to the scorpion fishes, and are armed with venomous spines. A mottled sandy to brown coloured pattern covers the body, often with a dark band across the eyes, aiding in brilliant camouflage as it hides amongst seagrass or sits atop the sand surface. Shallow-water species of flathead, such as the long-headed flathead have an elaborate shaped iris, with finger-like projections emerging from the upper eye, a diagnostic feature for many.
Often found to a shallow depth of 0 to 10 metres, they live on the seabed and ambush large-sized prey such as those fish, crabs, prawns and squid that dare to pass nearby.
This species is endemic to the southern coast of Australia from Shark Bay, WA to Kangaroo Is, SA, and grow to a maximum length to 610mm.
Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty
Rare sightings of the Long-headed Flathead are made from the Underwater Observatory. When this species have been sighted it has been as a large adult perched on top of a fallen pile where their camouflage is not as effective as it was when had they been on the sand or amongst the seagrass.
Image by: S. Daniels