Leatherjacket; Horseshoe - Busselton Jetty
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Leatherjacket; Horseshoe

Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty

The Horseshoe Leatherjacket is observed from the Underwater Observatory on a daily basis throughout the season. Brightly coloured adults to small juveniles alike are seen as individuals or in small groups as they swim through or feed and interact with other fishes amongst the jetty piles.

Meuschenia hippocrepis
Horseshoe Leatherjacket

The Horseshoe Leatherjacket is one of the largest and most visually stunning southern species of leatherjackets. Adults are brilliantly coloured with blue, green, and black and there is a characteristic dark horseshoe-shaped marking standing out from a yellow base on the sides. They have a long spine on top of the head above the eye which can be raised up or down, however it is not known to be venomous. This spine is characteristic of all the leatherjacket species. As their name suggests, Leatherjackets have Smooth, leathery skin comprised of small scales and minute spines covering the body.

Adult Horseshoe leatherjackets are common on rocky coastal and estuarine reefs in kelp areas, sometimes being found in large groups but are often observed alone. Juveniles inhabit bays and are common under structures, such as jetties. This southern species is moderately common from the Abrolhos Islands, WA to Wilsons Promontory, Vic. The Horseshoe leatherjacket is usually encountered at around 45 centimetres, however can grow to a maximum length of 60 centimetres.

Other common names include Horseshoe filefish


Edgar, G. (1997) Australian Marine Life: The Plants and Animals of Temperate Waters, Australia
Hutchins, B and Swainston, R. (1986) Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Swainston Publishing, Australia
Hutchins, Barry. (2000) Under Southern Seas: The Ecology of Australia’s Rocky Reefs. UNSW Press, Australia
Kuiter, R H. (1996) Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland Publishers, Australia
Morrison, S and P., Storrie, A. (2003) Beneath Busselton Jetty. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia
Morrison, S., Storrie, A. (1999) Wonders of Western Waters. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia

Image: www.fishbase.org