The Red-Lipped Morwong has a beautiful pattern of seven broad brown bands across the body, with brown spotting in between on a pale, creamy white base. All morwongs have distinctive large rubbery lips and the Red-Lipped name describes this species’ striking bright red, rubbery-looking lips. Even its scientific name contains rubro for red and labiatus for lips! They can grow to a length of 40 centimetres so are a sizeable fish. Sometimes they may be seen in schools, although individuals are most commonly seen resting under a reef ledge.
Red-Lipped Morwongs are endemic to Western Australia and the species range from Coral Bay, to the Recherche Archipelago WA. As juveniles, this species spends some time in the water column before settling in an area where the juvenile will then morph into the adult form. Ocean currents hence influence the distribution of this species and Red-Lipped Morwongs have been reported from Ceduna, South Australia. They inhabit shallow weedy areas in the south and coral reefs in the north, and may move offshore to depths of 30 metres.
Other common names include Redlip Morwong.
Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty
The Red-Lipped Morwong is an occasional visitor to the Underwater Observatory. It has been observed perching atop a fallen jetty pile on its large, splayed pectoral fins and swimming close to the seafloor looking for another inconspicuous place in which to rest. In recent seasons, an individual Red-lipped Morwong has often been observed resting under the braces of the piles close to the Underwater Observatory.