The photo above was sent in by a friend of a friend who came across the dead fish at Goolwa in South Australia this week and was unsure what it was.
I sent it to Alastair Graham who is the Fish Collection Manager at the Australian National Fish Collection in Hobart. As expected Alastair was a font of fishy knowledge.
“The photo does not show all the diagnostic characters, however I would say that it is most probably a Shaw’s Cowfish (Aracana aurita). They are normally found on coastal rocky reefs and seagrass areas at 10-160 metres. Not being strong swimmers, they are often found washed-up after storms.”
I had to laugh when Alastair said it was was not a good swimmer – seems pretty important to a fish…
Anyway, they are found around southern coastal waters of Australia from central New South Wales to south west Western Australia.