Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    scriptus
    Genus
    Aluterus
    Family
    Monacanthidae
    Order
    Tetraodontiformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to a total length of 1 m. It is the longest Australian leatherjacket species.

Introduction

The Scrawled Leatherjacket is the longest Australian leatherjacket species, growing to 1 m in length. It occurs in tropical marine waters worldwide.

Identification

The Scrawled Leatherjacket has an elongate, compressed body. The long snout has a concave profile, both above and below. The mouth is small and upturned. The caudal fin is large and rounded. The body is yellow, brown or grey, with blue lines, and blue and black spots.

Two species of Aluterus occur in Australian waters. The second is the Unicorn Leatherjacket, Aluterus monoceros.

Habitat

Adults live on coastal reefs in waters 20 m or more in depth. Juveniles, such as that in the images, are pelagic.

Distribution

The Scrawled Leatherjacket is found in tropical marine waters worldwide. In Australia it is recorded from the south-western coast of Western Australia, around the north of the country and south to southern New South Wales.

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.

Aluterus scriptus

Ozcam map of Scrawled Leatherjacket specimens in the Australian Museums. http://ozcam.ala.org.au/occurrences/search?q=Aluterus%20scriptus&zoom=off#mapView

Feeding and diet

It eats a range of foods including algae, seagrasses, certain soft corals and anemones.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Juveniles often swim in a vertical, head-down position with drifting vegetation, which they presumably mimic.

References

  1. 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.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  4. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557. (as Scrawled Leatherjacket).