The Cockatoo Waspfish is usually observed at dusk and on night dives as they stay hidden during daylight hours.They are usually observed on sand in the vacinity of rocky reefs and sea grass beds feeding on small shrimps and other crustaceans.
The Cockatoo Waspfish can be recognised by its long sail-like dorsal fin which originates above the eyes.
The fish is usually brown with a distinct white stripe along the leading edge of the dorsal fin and down the snout to the upper jaw. Adults may have a scribbled pattern of dark lines and blotches on the dorsal fin.
It is a benthic species that is found on coral reefs and in sheltered estuaries and bays down to depths of about 20 m.
The species occurs in tropical and some temperate waters of the Eastern Indian and Western Pacific Oceans.
In Australia it is known from the central coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country and south to the New South Wales central coast.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Danger to humans
Even though they are quite small in size, the species is considered dangerous to humans to to their venomous spines.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Crawford House Press. Pp. 437.
- Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.