#CreatureFeature – Mugil cephalus (Sea Mullet)

It is that time of year; camping trips up the coast, long days at the beach, and catching dinner with a rod and the right amount of luck. However, if you prefer to dine on Sea Mullet, a vegetarian species of fish, hopefully you remembered to pack the net!

Mugil cephalus, better known as Sea Mullet, is found along the entire Western Australian coastline. Mullet are often observed in open water and, depending on the time of year, in estuaries and lower reaches of freshwater rivers.

With a diet consisting of diatoms, algae, and the occasional crustacean, Sea Mullet are what is called a detritivore. They are even known to consume sand, which acts as a grinding agent and breaks down plant materials in the stomach.

Juvenile Mullet prefer lower salinity environments, and will often move into nearshore areas and estuarine systems. At approximately 38cm, a Mullet matures and moves to marine waters closer to land to spawn between the months of February and September. A mature Mullet measuring around 40cm has the potential to produce around one million pelagic eggs, which hatch after just a few days.

Once an adult, Sea Mullet will live up to 16 years, moving through coastal waters, estuaries, and rivers. They can grow up to around 80cm and weigh up to 5 kg. Mullet that inhabit freshwater systems typically do not grow to be as large, usually no bigger than 50cm.

Sea Mullet are a popular recreational fishing species and are most often caught using gill nets.

References: DWER, Fishes of Australia

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