Elephant Fish, Callorhinchus milii Click to enlarge image
A 58cm long Elephant Fish trawled in November 1984 by FRV Kapala at a depth of 70m, off Bermagui, New South Wales (AMS I.25320-002). Image: Ken Graham
© DPI Fisheries

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    milii
    Genus
    Callorhinchus
    Family
    Callorhinchidae
    Order
    Chimaeriformes
    Class
    Chondrichthyes
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    It grows to 1.2m in length.

Introduction

The strange looking Elephantfish can grow to 1.2m in length. It has a hoe-shaped structure on the snout.

Identification

The Elephantfish can be easily recognised by the hoe-shaped structure on the snout. Its head has a series of obvious sensory canals and pores. The pectoral fins are large, the first dorsal fin is preceded by a strong, serrated spine, and the caudal fin has a long upper lobe.

The body is silvery white, and sometimes has darker markings behind the eyes and on the fins.

Habitat

It lives to depths of at least 200 m on the continental shelf

Distribution

The Elephantfish occurs off southern Australia and New Zealand.



Other behaviours and adaptations

The Elephantfish has a skeleton made of cartilage. Sharks and rays also have cartilaginous skeletons. All three groups of fishes are classified in the class Chondrichthyes.

Life history cycle

In spring, females migrate into coastal bays and estuaries to lay their egg cases in sand and muddy substrates. The distinctively-shaped egg cases are sometimes found washed ashore after storms. They are up to 25 cm long, 10 cm wide, and take up to eight months to hatch.

Economic impacts

It is caught commercially in New Zealand.

References

  1. Gorman, T.B.S. 1963. Biological and Economic Aspects of the Elephant Fish Callorhynchus milii Bory in Pegasus Bay and the Canterbury Bight. New Zealand Marine Department Fisheries Technical Report. 8. Pp. 54.
  2. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994 Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.
  3. McGrouther, M.A. 2000. Elephant Fish. in q&a. Nature Australia. 26(10): 82.
  4. Whitley, G.P. 1940. The fishes of Australia. Part I. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Royal Zoological Society N.S.W., Australian Zoological Handbook 1-280.