The Fan-bellied Leatherjacket is known for a large, greatly extendible flap of skin on the belly. Other distinctive features of this species include coarse skin and six small spines in front of the tail. They are cream to brown with brown blotches and angled mottling across the body. When swimming above darker substrate, the fan-bellied leatherjacket is able to darken and lighten their base colour to camouflage.
The Fan-bellied Leatherjacket is typically a tropical species, occurring in northern Australian waters south to Geographe Bay, Western Australia and Western Port, Victoria. They inhabit warm temperate marine estuaries, often associated with seagrass beds, and in coastal bays on kelp and algae reef. The species grow to a maximum length of 40 centimetres.
Other common names include Centreboard leatherjacket, Fan-bellied Filefish, Fringed filefish
Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty
A seasonal pattern of sightings of the fan-bellied leatherjacket around the underwater observatory has emerged, these sightings however occur on a rare basis.
Image by: C. Kawiti