#CreatureFeature – Choerodon rubescens (Baldchin Groper)

The Baldchin groper is a species of the wrasse family and is found only in Western Australia.

They can be identified by their trademark white patch on their pectoral fin and distinct white chin after which this groper is named.

Their body colour can be a yellow brown in younger speices to pink or grey and even green-blue among the larger males.

Being one of the largest species of tuskfish, the Baldchin groper has protruding teeth in both jaws that resemble tusks and can grow to around 90 cm in length.

Along the West Australian coastline, you can find the Baldchin between Coral Bay and Cape Naturaliste however they are most abundant around the Abrolhos Islands, 60 kilometres off the coast of Geraldton.

Being a ‘sedentary’ animal means they do not travel far from their home and tend to stay close to the shore and the seabed at depths of 20 metres.

Mostly they inhabit reefs less than 100 metres deep, with younger species being found in shallow, weedy areas near reef.

The Baldchin is carnivorous and feeds mostly on echinoderms, molluscs and crustaceans.

Like most wrasses, Baldchin gropers begin adult life as females and later turn into males which is scientifically known as ‘functional protogynous hermaphroditism’.

These creatures normally mature as females around the age of two or three while they are measuring around 27 centimetres in length.

They then produce eggs for several years and then change sex to male at around eight to 12 years of age when they are around 48 to 55 centimetres long.

Around the Abrolhos Islands, spawning normally occurs from early spring to mid-summer with the peak period being between November and early January.

Female Baldchins are known to release eggs in a series of several batches over one breeding season.

Information sourced from https://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Documents/recreational_fishing/fact_sheets/fact_sheet_baldchin_groper.pdf

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