The Prickly Leatherjacket is the master of disguise with its transparent tail fin and tasseled body camouflaging perfectly into the seagrass meadows they inhabit. Unlike some other leatherjacket species, where the juvenile fish bears tentacle like growths and then loses them upon maturity, the Prickly Leatherjacket retains these dermal flaps for life. Their colouration varies from a pale green to brown and have a series of black and iridescent blue horizontal lines covering the body. They also have the ability to change their base colour to suit their surrounding environment. As with all leatherjacket species, the Prickly leatherjacket has a prominent dorsal spine which is able to be raised and lowered. They grow to a maximum length of 31 centimetres.
The Prickly Leatherjacket is a tropical species found throughout the coastal waters of the Indo-West Pacific, and is known to occur from Geographe Bay, WA, through to northern Australia and south to the central coast of NSW. They are primarily found inhabiting seagrass meadows, however they have been caught in trawls at depths of up to 50 metres.
Other common names include Leafy filefish, Tasselled leatherjacket, Tasselled filefish
Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty
It is not uncommon to see an individual Prickly Leatherjacket swimming amongst the jetty piles, very much resembling a clump of seagrass. Geographe Bay, WA. is the southern most limit for this species.
Image by: O. Rynvis