It’s leatherjacket season! Also, this is not a fashion article…

Six-spine leatherjacket

Yellowfin leatherjacket

Leatherjackets are amazing fish, in such colourful varieties. In the past two months, I’ve spotted five different species from the Horseshoe to the Yellowfin species (Meuschenia trachylepis) pictured. This species is often seen with the Six-spined leatherjacket, which I mistook this fish for in my original post on Facebook.

Some people have the idea that marine biologists shouldn’t be out fishing for the species we are studying but it can be a great way of identifying fish, learning where they are and aren’t present and the warning signs when stocks start dwindling.

Spearfishing is now one of my favourites sports – it’s low-impact on the marine environment as opposed to other fishing forms, as we target specific fish and only go for the type and size we want.

Obviously some people still abuse catch and size limits as in any form but the crew I dive with all play by the rules (we’re all marine biology undergrads and my partner also works for the government department dealing with fisheries compliance…)

Leatherjacket teeth

Leatherjacket teeth

This species has some serious teeth, used for crushing molluscs and slow-moving sessile animals. Anecdotally, leatherjackets aren’t fast-moving like the local zebrafish or bluethroat wrasse – most of the leatherys I’ve seen tend to hide under ledges or in crevices rather than try to outswim their prey.


About oceanicexplorer

Posted on April 22, 2013, in conservation, fishing, fun, photography, sea life, Victoria, Warrnambool and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Beautiful fish and great whole or in steaks.
    Mind the teeth and spike.

    • Be careful not to overcook though or it will toughen up like chicken. Fine if you like fish to taste like chicken but I don’t!
      The spike has some serious barbs along the top section – great for warding off predators but need to be handled carefully.


    Sometimes you can catch them by hand when they are in cracks or hiding in seaweed.

    • Juvenile leatherjackets seem to have no fear of humans at all – I’ve had schools of them circling me and others feeding on jellies a few feet in front of my camera. Adults vary in their response – have seen some boldly-coloured species like horseshoe LJs trying to hide unsuccessfully on wide patches of sand, while some mosaic and rough LJs can be tricky to spot in thick weed. Often they are much more fun to watch than hunt!

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