Footy fish at AQWA know the score


Footballer sweep fish make their mark with jersey-like colours.
Footy fish at AQWA know the score
Footballer sweep fish make their mark with jersey-like colours.

AS the footy season hots up towards the finals, AQWA operations manager Sasha Thompson writes about some footballers to look out for below the waves.

FOUND only in Australia, these swift fish have a distinctive pattern that is said to resemble the pattern of footy jerseys, giving them their common name “footballer sweep”.

Watching them swim is also like watching a footy match as they zoom about in one direction then the next all following one fish and then another.

They belong to an ancient family of fish; however footballer sweep were only discovered in 1905 – 46 years after the formation of the first Aussie Rules football club.

In the underwater world, stripes are a survival strategy called “confusion camouflage” as the school of fish all blur together making it harder for a predator to target an individual fish.

The footballer sweep’s zippy swim style is also aided by another design feature – the thin body and long dorsal fin which allow it to quickly change direction and approach angle to slip in and about the small spaces on a reef.

In the Marmion Marine Park look out for them zooming above patches of seaweed, often above caves and swim throughs.