Animal Species:Sergeant Baker, Hime purpurissatus Richardson, 1843

The Sergeant Baker is probably named after Governor Phillip's orderly sergeant, William Baker. The species is commonly seen by divers in on the New South Wales coast.

Standard Common Name

Sergeant Baker


The Sergeant Baker can be recognised by its long tapering body, blotched colouration and its behaviour. The species is commonly observed by divers as it perches on the substrate with its head raised.

Adult males and females are easy to tell apart. Several of the anterior rays of the first dorsal fin are greatly elongated in males, nearly reaching the adipose fin. The elongated dorsal fin rays can be seen in the middle image.

The Sergeant Baker is probably named after Governor Phillip's orderly sergeant, William Baker. Sergeant Baker came to Australia as a Corporal of Marines on the transport ship Charlotte. He was reported to have been a keen fisherman, and possibly the first white settler to have caught this species.

Size range

It grows to about 68 cm in length.


This species is endemic to Australia. It is recorded from temperate waters from the central Western Australian 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.

Hime purpurissatus

Distribution by collection data

Biomaps map of Sergeant Baker specimens in the Australian Museum collection.

What does this mean?


The species occurs in bays and coastal reefs down to depths of 250 m.

Feeding and Diet

Dietary items include molluscs, fishes and crustaceans.

Life cycle

View a description of the Larval Sergeant Baker.

Economic/social impacts

It is reported to be a poor to fair table fish.



What does this mean?


  1. Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. Pp. 544.
  2. Glover, C.J.M. 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. 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.
  4. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  5. Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Crawford House Press. Pp. 437.
  6. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Sergeant Baker, Hime purpurissatus, Aulopidae, marine, filament, dorsal fin, red, blotches,


Mark McGrouther - 9.07 AM, 20 July 2009
Thank you Erik. That's a lovely shot of a female. I'll try to track down an image of a male.
eschlogl - 4.07 PM, 18 July 2009
Here's an image of a Sergeant Baker off Old Man's Hat, North Head, Sydney Harbour, Australia. Depth: 19m Date: 11-Jan-09

Comment Attachment

Report misuse