Herring Cale, Odax cyanomelas Click to enlarge image
An terminal phase Herring Cale. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    cyanomelas
    Genus
    Odax
    Family
    Odacidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 51 cm in length.

Introduction

The Herring Cale is a member of the fish family Odacidae. One of the distinguishing features of odacid fishes is that the teeth in both jaws are fused into a parrot-like beak with serrated edges.



Identification

The Herring Cale can be recognised by its colouration, which varies as the fish grows. Juveniles are typically grey or greenish brown above and yellow below. They have an incomplete silvery-white stripe on the side of the body.

Initial phase Herring Cale are usually darker green to brown above and green-yellow below. They have bluish lines on the head and sometimes lines and blotches on the fins. Terminal phase Herring Cale are blue, grey or black with bright blue lines along the upper and lower edges of the caudal fin.

The Herring Cale is a member of the fish family Odacidae. One of the distinguishing features of odacid fishes is that the teeth in both jaws are fused into a parrot-like beak with serrated edges.

Habitat

The Herring Cale can form large aggregations. It is most commonly seen in the surge zone of rocky intertidal areas, often in areas covered with brown macroalgae. It is found from the intertidal to around 30 m.

Distribution

The Herring Cale is endemic to Australia. It is known from the central coast of Western Australia, around the temperate south of the country, including Tasmania, and up the east coast to southern Queensland.

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.



Feeding and diet

It is a herbivorous species. The main food items are large brown algae, including Ecklonia radiata, Phyllospora comosa and Lessonia corrugata.

References

  1. Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. Pp. 544.
  2. Gomon, M. F. & J. R. Paxton 1985. A Revision of the Odacidae, A temperate Australian-New Zealand Labroid fish family. Indo-Pacific. Fishes No. 8: 1-57, Pls. I-VI.
  3. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 469.