Morwong, Blue

Common Name: Blue Morwong, Rubberlip Morwong
Scientific Name: Nemadactylus douglasii
Maximum Size: 80cm
NSW Record: 5.050kg
Range: QLD, NSW, Vic, TAS.

A generally deeper dwelling species than its cousins, the Red and Banded Morwongs, the Blue Morwong is more often taken by more experienced divers. By far the most common habitat for this fish is the “sand line”. This region is where the rocky reef meets the sand of the deeper areas along the southern coast line. This species can also be found in shallower areas, especially after storms have stirred up the shallower (4-5m) reefs. Any spot that has Snapper, Bastard Trumpeter, Tarwhine or King Wrasse will also be a likely spot for Blue Morwong.

Blue Morwong occur singularly, in pairs and in small schools. Underwater they appear greyish in colour and often blend into the haze at the edge of visibility. The pectoral fins are a darker blue than the body and quite elongated. The Jackass Morwong (Nemadactylus macropterus) occurs in similar habitat, but is more commonly found in Victoria and Tasmania. The Jackass differs from the Blue Morwong by having a dark stripe across its nape (neck) and generally smaller size.

Little is known about the breeding habits of the Blue Morwong, but they are not mature at the minimum legal length of 30cm. The maximum age of this species is estimated to be over 20 years.

Like most Morwongs, the Blue is very inquisitive. The favoured technique is to swim to the bottom, near a likely looking ledge or drop-off and wait. Banging rocks together, throwing up sand and banging the gun handle onto the floor all work well. If spooked, the fish will flee very quickly but often return later for another look. Larger schools form in deep water where they are targeted by commercial fishers. NSW Fisheries estimate that the recreational catch of this species is about three times that of the commercial sector.