Unicorn Leatherjacket Click to enlarge image
A 30 cm long Unicorn Leatherjacket at a depth of 7 m (water depth of 14 m), Fly Point Marine Reserve, Port Stephens, New South Wales , May 2006. Image: David and Leanne Atkinson
© David and Leanne Atkinson

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    monoceros
    Genus
    Aluterus
    Family
    Monacanthidae
    Order
    Tetraodontiformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 75 cm in length.

Introduction

The Unicorn Leatherjacket is usually brown to grey with brown spots on the upper sides and a dark caudal fin. It can be recognised by its highly compressed body and the posterior placement of the eyes on the head.

Identification

The Unicorn Leatherjacket can be recognised by its highly compressed body and the posterior placement of the eyes on the head. The dorsal and ventral head profiles are both convex. The dorsal fin spine is slender.

The species is usually brown to grey with brown spots on the upper sides. The caudal fin is dark.

Two species of Aluterus occur in Australian waters. The second is the Scribbled Leatherjacket.


Unicorn Leatherjacket, Aluterus monoceros
A Unicorn Leatherjacket caught on hook and line at a depth of 120 m off the north-west slope of Lord Howe Island, New South Wales. Image: Ian Kerr
© Ian Kerr

Habitat

The species occurs in tropical marine waters.

Distribution

The Unicorn Leatherjacket occurs worldwide.

In Australia it is known from south-western Western Australia around the tropical north of the country and south to the central coast 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.



References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
  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. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.