Southern sea garfish are pale greenish blue on the back and upper sides, and have a broad, blue-edged silver band along the middle of the side. Garfish are distinguished from most other species by the large ‘bill’ or ‘beak’ on their lower jaw.
Another species, the river garfish (Hyporhamphus regularis) is found in a few locations in South Australia. However, little is known of the biology of the species.
Southern sea garfish occur in southern Australian waters, from Victoria through Bass Straight and around Tasmania to through to south western Western Australia. DNA testing has shown that four genetically separate populations occur within its distribution:
In South Australia, they are found throughout gulf waters and sheltered bays on the west coast, Kangaroo Island and the south east coast. The extent of their offshore distribution is currently unknown, as no surface net fishery exists in these waters.
Southern sea garfish are serial batch spawners, producing relatively few, but large eggs over its extensive spawning season. In South Australia the spawning season occurs from September to April. During that period, there are two distinct spawning peaks in November, December and February.
Although only a few eggs have been found among seagrass beds in South Australian waters, there is a close relationship between garfish eggs and seagrass. The eggs of sea garfish are adhesive and relatively large (2.5 to 3 mm diameter).
Research has shown that garfish become sexually mature at a total length (measured from the tip of the upper jaw to the end of the caudal fin) of about 21 cm in approximately 18 months. The maximum age of fish in South Australia is thought to be about six years.
In the sheltered waters, garfish live among seagrass beds, as they feed during daylight hours on leaves of the seagrasses Zostera and Heterozostera. During the night, they prefer to feed on zooplankton throughout the water column.
Garfish are an extremely important recreational species in South Australia. The recreational fishery is regulated through size limits, bag and boat limits. Bag limits are also a management measure for protecting and maintaining fish stocks.
|Minimum legal length:||23 cm measured from tip of the upper jaw to the tip of the tail|
|Personal daily bag limit:||60|
|Daily boat limit:||180|