Soldier, <i>Gymnapistes marmoratus </i> Click to enlarge image
A Soldier at a depth of 2m, Mornington Pier, Victoria, 15 November 2009. Image: Sascha Schulz
© Sascha Schulz

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    marmoratus
    Genus
    Gymnapistes
    Family
    Scorpaenidae
    Order
    Scorpaeniformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 22 cm in length.

Introduction

The Soldier occurs mainly in temperate estuarine waters living amongst the seagrass. It is responsible for many stings received by people wading out into shallow waters.

Identification

The Soldier has a mottled colouration of brown to dark brown blotches above grading to paler below. The blotches are less distinct in larger fish. The 13 poisonous dorsal fin spines are each separated by incised membrane. There is a large retrorse (backward-pointing) spine on either side of the head below the eye.

The species differs from the similar-looking Fortescue, Centropogon australis by the absence of scales on its body. C. australis does have scaless. The Soldier also has a distinctive protruding lateral line, which is first visible posterior to the opercular margin and terminates on the caudal peduncle.


Cobbler, Gymnapistes marmoratus
A Cobbler caught by S. Page in a prawn net at a depth of 0.6 m, Lake Curalo, New South Wales, February 2003. Image: Ian Merrington
© Ian Merrington @ DPI Fisheries

Habitat

Usually found inshore amongst seagrass.

Distribution

It is endemic to Australia. It occurs mainly in temperate estuarine waters from central New South Wales, around the south of the country and north to Perth, Western Australia.

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

The 13 poisonous dorsal fin spines are each separated by incised membrane. There is a large retrorse (backward-pointing) spine on either side of the head below the eye. Is responsible for many stings received by people wading out into shallow estuaries.

References

  1. Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. Pp. 544.
  2. Poss, SG in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  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. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  5. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.