Cockatoo Waspfish, Ablabys taenianotus Click to enlarge image
A Cockatoo Waspfish at a depth of 10 m, South Wall near effluent pipe, Gold Coast Seaway, March 2005. Image: Ian Banks
© Ian Banks

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    taenianotus
    Genus
    Ablabys
    Family
    Scorpaenidae
    Order
    Scorpaeniformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The Cockatoo Waspfish grows to 15 cm in length.

Introduction

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.

Identification

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.

Habitat

It is a benthic species that is found on coral reefs and in sheltered estuaries and bays down to depths of about 20 m.

Distribution

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.

References

  1. Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Crawford House Press. Pp. 437.
  2. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.