Animal Species:Starry Seabat, Halieutaea stellata Vahl, 1797
Fishes in the genus Halieutaea have the head expanded into a flat, circular disc. The upper surface has scales modified into spiny tubercles. The fish in the video below might not be H. stellata, but the footage is so interesting, it just had to be shared!
Starry Batfish, Starry Handfish
Batfishes have a fleshy lure (the esca) on the snout. The esca is positioned within a bony recess called the illicial cavity.
The pectoral fins project laterally at the rear of the disc. The pelvic fins are located on the under side of the disc.
The Starry Seabat is usually red to pink dorsally with fine black or grey spots forming crescentic patterns. The pectoral, caudal and dorsal fins are red, usually with black margins.
The species grows to a maximum length of 30 cm.
It is a benthic species that occurs throughout the tropical Indo-West Pacific.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Distribution by collection data
- Bradbury, M.G. 1967. The Genera of Batfishes (Family Ogcocephalidae). Copeia. 2:399-422.
- Gloerfelt-Tarp, T & P.J. Kailola. 1984. Trawled Fishes of southern Indonesia and north-western Australia. Jakarta: Directorate General of Fisheries (Indonesia), German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Australian Development Assistance Bureau. Pp. 406.
- Paxton, J.R., D.F. Hoese, G.R. Allen & J.E. Hanley. 1989. Zoological Catalogue of Australia Vol.7 Pisces Petromyzontidae to Carangidae. Canberra: Australian Biological Resources Survey. Pp. i-xii, 1-665.
- Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J, & G.G. Leyland. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of northern and north-western Australia. An illustrated Guide. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research. Pp. 375.
Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow