Animal Species:Ocean Jacket, Nelusetta ayraud (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)

The Ocean Jacket is commonly encountered by fishers on offshore reefs. This species is notorious for attacking hooked fish, the bare hook itself or even unwary divers!

Standard Common Name

Ocean Jacket

Alternative Name/s

Chinaman, Chinaman Leatherjacket, Leatherjonnie, Yellow Jacket.


Juvenile Ocean Jackets are white with brown stripes and yellow fins. Adults tend to be a solid brown or yellow colour.

The species name 'ayraud' is often writen in error as 'ayraudi'.

Size range

The species can reach 1 m in length and a weight of over 3 kg.


The Ocean Jacket is endemic to Australian waters, and can be found along the southern coastline from southern Queensland to central Western Australia.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Nelusetta ayraud

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Ocean Jacket specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?

Feeding and Diet

A voracious predator, the Ocean Jacket has been known to attack fish much larger than themselves.  The species feeds on crustaceans and fishes. Their razor sharp teeth slice chunks out of their prey. One individual Ocean Jacket that was caught off Wollongong was found to have eaten an entire 25 cm long stingray (Sascha Schulz pers. comm.)

Conservation Status

The Ocean Jacket is the major component of commercial leatherjacket catches in New South Wales waters.



What does this mean?


  1. Gomon, M.F., Bray, D. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 2008. The Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Reed New Holland. Pp. 928.
  2. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  3. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  4. Hutchins, B. & M. Thompson. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 103.
  5. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Sascha Schulz
Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, Ocean Jacket, Nelusetta ayraudi, Monacanthidae, white, brown, flatfish, 30 cm - 1 m, stripes, rocky reef, marine, spiky first dorsal fin, brown stripes,