Common name: Spangled Emperor. Scientific name: Lethrinus nebulosus. Family: Lethrinidae.

Spangled Emperor: They are yellow to yellowish brown with blue markings on the head and sides of body but the cheeks lack scales.

They grow to about 86cm in length and weigh between 4kg and 6.5kg.

Found in Continental Shelf waters at depths ranging from 2m to 75m. They prefer a hard bottom and in shallower waters they like areas of coral and the sand around them.

Found from south-western Western Australia, around the tropical north and south on the east coast to the central coast of New South Wales.

The picture above is CSIRO’s Dr Rich Pillans about to release a tagged Spangled Emperor in the Ningaloo Marine Park, northwest Western Australia.

Since November 2007, scientists from CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship have tagged over 300 fish in the Ningaloo area off WA’s North West Cape as part of a Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) project.

Research gathered shows that some fish species in Western Australia’s Ningaloo Marine Park spend most of their time close to home, staying on the reef rather than travelling significant distances, as was previously thought. Around 40 per cent of tagged Spangled Emperor (an important sport fish, also known as nor-west snapper) remained within hundreds of metres of where they were originally captured. Data also showed that highly mobile species like Gold Spot Trevally and grey reef sharks spent the majority of time within just a few kilometres of where they were tagged.

The research aims to identify what influences the movement patterns and habitat use of fishes in the park, which encompasses the majority of Ningaloo Reef, the largest fringing reef in Australia. The new data on the long-term movement patterns of sharks and other fish in the park will have important implications for future management decisions on the size and placement of sanctuary zones. Currently 34 per cent of the park is reserved as sanctuaries designed to protect marine animals and their habitat from human disturbance.