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Wrasse; Black Spotted

Wrasse; Black Spotted

Austrolabrus maculates

There are over 400 species worldwide within the wrasse family, Labridae, roughly half of which are found in Australia.  Size, shape and behavioural patterns vary greatly between species, however one common characteristic of this family is that they are protogynous hermaphrodites.  That is all juveniles are born female, they consequently join a female harem that is dominated by a single male and if the behavioural cues of the male are missing the largest female will ultimately change sex.  The black spotted wrasse has a distinctive colour pattern with pink to red-brown dorsally and pale to yellowish underneath.  An irregular series of black spots occur on the upperside of the body.  Juveniles and females have a white bar and a white-edged black spot in front of the tail, fading to small black dots in the adult male.  The black spotted wrasse grows to a maximum length of 20 centimetres.

The black spotted wrasse is endemic to Australian coastal to deep offshore waters to depths of 40 metres.  Southwestern fish are common in shallow depths among seaweeds on reefs, elsewhere they inhabit offshore rocky reefs and sponge gardens.  The black spotted wrasse occurs in two separate populations, the eastern population ranges from Montague Island to Byron Bay, NSW and the western population ranges from Shark Bay, WA to Victor Harbour, SA.

 

Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty: 

The black spotted wrasse is commonly observed from the underwater observatory and is often seen from the littoral zone down to the seafloor.