Southern Smiler, Opistognathus jacksoniensis Click to enlarge image
A 25 cm long Southern Smiler caught on hook and line at a depth of 22 m, North Solitary Island, New South Wales, 25 February 2011. Image: Justin McKenzie
© Justin McKenzie

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    jacksoniensis
    Genus
    Opistognathus
    Family
    Opistognathidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    It grows to about 25 cm in length.

Introduction

The Southern Smiler is a burrow-dwelling species that is only known from Australian waters.

Identification

The Southern Smiler is yellowish with irregular brown to black blotches. The head is whitish with a dense network of brown blotches and reticulations. There are orange blotches at the corners of the mouth.

The species has a slender body and large head with huge eyes. The large mouth has small canine teeth in both jaws.

Jawfishes are found worldwide in tropical marine waters. There are about 96 known species in three genera. About one third of these are yet to be named. In Australia, there are 17 named species plus several yet to be described.



Habitat

It lives on sandy seabeds in inshore and continental shelf waters. According to Kuiter (2000), the fish is found on "rubble and sand flats near reefs; 20-30 m, but probably deeper as well".

Distribution

The Southern Smiler is endemic to Australia, occurring from southern Queensland to the Sydney region of 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.



Other behaviours and adaptations

The Southern Smiler is a burrow-dwelling species.

References

  1. Grant, E.M. 1982. Guide to Fishes. Department of Harbours & Marine. Pp. 896.
  2. 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, Pp. 1-2178.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.