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Round-faced Batfish

Round faced Batfish

Platax tiera

The body of the Round-Faced Batfish is disc shaped, silver, grey or brownish and can be recognised by the dark blotch below the pectoral fin and a second elongate dark mark from above where the anal fin begins, both of which are diagnostic for the species. Juveniles have extremely tall and elongate dorsal and anal fins and yellow caudal fins which will become relatively shorter with age. Round-Faced Batfish are a tropical coral reef species, occurring through much of the Indo-West Pacific but can be distributed much farther south. Juvenile round faced batfish inhabit shallow protected inner reefs while adults prefer deeper seaward reefs.

Adults usually form small aggregations, but have been observed to school in some areas. Their diet comprises benthic invertebrates and zooplankton. Maximum length of this species is 60 centimetres.

Other common names include Batfish, Longfin Batfish, Longfin Spadefish, RoundfaceBatfish, Tiera Batfish.

 

Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty

Individuals of this species are washed from the tropics into Geographe Bay by the Leeuwin Current and resident schools have formed underneath the Busselton Jetty. During the 2006/07 season a school of up to 12 individuals were seen daily from the Underwater Observatory. During the 2011/12 season up to 25 Round-Faced Batfish were seen daily and were occasionally observed being cleaned by a Moonlighter Sweep. More recently, sightings of 3-5 batfish have been more regular during the summer months where they have been observed feeding on Comb Jellies in the water column. Round-Faced Batfish are a placid fish and become visibly stressed when large, predatory Samson fish and fur seals enter into the area to feed.

Image by: A. Micha