Soldier, Gymnapistes marmoratus (Cuvier, 1829)
The Soldier resembles the Fortescue. The Soldier is scaleless but the Fortescue has scales.
The Soldier occurs mainly in temperate estuarine waters living amongst the seagrass. It is responsible for many stings received by people wading out into shallow waters.
The Soldier has a mottled colouration of brown to dark brown blotches above grading to paler below. The blotches are less distinct in larger fish. The 13 poisonous dorsal fin spines are each separated by incised membrane. There is a large retrorse (backward-pointing) spine on either side of the head below the eye.
The species differs from the similar-looking Fortescue, Centropogon australis by the absence of scales on its body. C. australis does have scaless. The Soldier also has a distinctive protruding lateral line, which is first visible posterior to the opercular margin and terminates on the caudal peduncle.
Usually found inshore amongst seagrass.
It is endemic to Australia. It occurs mainly in temperate estuarine waters from central New South Wales, around the south of the country and north to Perth, Western Australia.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Danger to humans
The 13 poisonous dorsal fin spines are each separated by incised membrane. There is a large retrorse (backward-pointing) spine on either side of the head below the eye. Is responsible for many stings received by people wading out into shallow estuaries.
- Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. Pp. 544.
- Poss, SG in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
- Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.