Sea Mullet, Mugil cephalus Linnaeus 1758


Other Names: Bully, Bully Mullet, Flathead Mullet, Grey Mullet, Hardgut Mullet, Hard-gut Mullet, Hardgut River Mullet, Mangrove Mullet, Poddies, Poddy Mullet, Poddy Mullet and Mullet, River Mullet, Sand Mullet, Striped Mullet

Sea Mullet, Mugil cephalus, in Sydney Harbour, New South Wales. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

Summary:

A bluish-grey to olive-brown mullet becoming silvery-white or paler below, with a dark-bluish spot at the base of the pectoral fin.

Although Mugil cephalus has been thought to occur worldwide, recent molecular studies, indicate that what has been considered to be Mugil cephalus is a complex of cryptic species.

Video of Sea Mullet scaling the Wolli fish ladder.


Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2019, Mugil cephalus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Mar 2019, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3880

Sea Mullet, Mugil cephalus Linnaeus 1758

More Info


Distribution

Widespread in Australia, from far northern Queensland, around southern Australia to the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, including the Bass Strait area of Tasmania. Elsewhere the species is currently treated as being circumglobal in distribution.

Inhabits tropical and temperate coastal marine and estuarine waters, frequently entering the lower freshwater reaches of rivers. Sea Mullet can tolerate a wide salinity range and often move into lagoons, lakes and the upper reaches of estuaries. Adults migrates back to the sea to spawn. Although usually found inshore, Sea Mullet may occur well offshore in depths greater than 330 m.

Features

Dorsal fin IV + I, 8-9; Anal fin  III, 8; Caudal fin 14; Pectoral fin 16-17; Pelvic fin  I, 5

Body elongate, robust, moderately compressed, spindle-shaped; head small, dorsally broad and flat; snout short; mouth small, terminal, oblique; close-set row of slender monocuspid teeth in the edge of lips, three or four rows of bicuspid teeth in inner side of lips; adipose eyefold extensive over iris (except in specimens about 30 mm SL or less); posterior nostrils extending above level of upper rim of eye; anterior nostril entirely below vertical span of posterior; gill rakers long.
Scales pavement ctenoid, mucus canals straight, marked secondary squamation, no multicanaliculate scales; enlarged axillary scale at pectoral fin base; scales absent from head; mid-lateral scales 38-42; lateral line absent.
First dorsal fin origin on centre of back; 2nd dorsal fin opposite and similar in size and shape to anal fin; dorsal ray of pectoral fins developed as a short spur or ‘spine’ (not a true spine), not reaching origin of first dorsal fin; pectoral fins 16-21% standard length, 61-83% head length; upper insertion of pectoral fin at level of upper rim of eye; pelvic fins with I spine and 5 soft rays, inserted about midway between origins of pectoral fins and first dorsal fin.

Size

Sea Mullet may grow to more than 70 cm in length, although most are around 40 cm; maximum weight 8 kg.

Colour

Variable in colour depending on the habitat. Individuals in the ocean are bluish grey on the back and upper sides, and silvery-white below. Sea Mullet in estuarine areas are an olive-brown with a pale belly.

Feeding

Generally a bottom feeding detritivore. Juveniles feed on zooplankton and benthic amphipods and copepods. Adults often feed on algae covered rocks.

Biology

Mature Sea Mullet migrate along the coast or congregate in estuaries before moving offshore to spawn in surface waters over the continental shelf February to September depending on location. The pelagic larvae spend 2-3 months before moving back to estuarine and even freshwater areas at lengths of 2-3 cm. Fecundity is high with females producing between 300,000 and 7,200,000 pelagic eggs. Average egg diameter is 0.89 mm with an oil globule 0.39mm. Larvae are around 2.68 mm TL at hatching and feeding begins at 3-5 days post hatching

Fisheries

Sea Mullet are an important component of many coastal fishery and aquaculture programs.

Conservation

IUCN Red List : Least Concern

Remarks

Genetic studies indicate that what is currently recognised as Mugil cephalus is a complex of genetically isolated taxa that should be treated as distinct species (see references). However, not only is it unclear which of the many available names should apply to Australian species, genetic studies also indicate that more than one species may be present in Australia (Durand et al. 2012). 

Species Citation

Mugil cephalus Linnaeus 1758, Systema Naturae 10th Edn: 316. Type locality: European Ocean.

Author

Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2019

Resources

Australian Faunal Directory

Sea Mullet, Mugil cephalus Linnaeus 1758

References


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. 

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp. 

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Castelnau, F.L. de 1879. Essay on the ichthyology of Port Jackson. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 3(4): 347-402 (as Mugil grandis)

Chubb, C.F., Potter, I.C., Lenanton, R.C. & Wallace, J. 1981. Age structure, growth rates and movements of sea mullet, Mugil cephalus L., and yellow-eye mullet, Aldrichetta forsteri (Valenciennes), in the Swan-Avon River system, Western Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 32: 605–628

Crosetti, D., Avise, J.C., Placidi, F., Rossi, A.R. & Sola, L. 1993. Geographic variability in the grey mullet Mugil cephalus: preliminary results of mtDNA and chromosome analyses. Aquaculture 111: 95–101.

Crosetti, D., Nelson, W.S. & Avise, J.C. 1994. Pronounced genetic structure of mitochondrial DNA among populations of the circumglobally distributed grey mullet (Mugil cephalus). Journal of Fish Biology 44(1): 47–58.

De Vis, C.W. 1885. New fishes in the Queensland Museum. No. 5. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 9(4): 869-887 (as Mugil marginalis)

Durand, D., Shen, K.-N., Chen, W.-J., Jamandre, B.W., Blel, H., Diop, K., Nirchio, M., Garcia de León, F.J., Whitfield, A.K., Chang, C.-W. & Borsa, P. 2012a. Systematics of the grey mullets (Teleostei: Mugiliformes: Mugilidae): Molecular phylogenetic evidence challenges two centuries of morphology-based taxonomy. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 64(1): 73-92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2012.03.006

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Mugilidae. pp. 390-394 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp. 

Grant, C.J. & Spain, A.V. 1975. Reproduction growth and size allometry of Mugil cephalus Linnaeus (Pisces Mugilidae) from north Queensland inshore waters. Australian Journal of Zoology 23: 181–201

Günther, A. 1861. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the acanthopterygian fishes in the collection of the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 3 586 pp. (as Mugil dobula)

Harrison, I.J. & Senou, H. 1999. Order Mugiliformes. pp. 2069-2790 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 pp. 2069-2790. 

Heras, S., Roldán, M.I. & Castro, M.G. 2009. Molecular phylogeny of Mugilidae fishes revised. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 19(2): 217–231

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Hutchins, J.B. 1997. Checklist of fishes of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. pp. 239-253 in Wells, F. (ed.) The Marine Fauna and Flora of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum. 

Hutchins, J.B. 2003. Checklist of marine fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. pp. 453-478 in Wells, F.E., Walker, D.I., & Jones, D.S. (eds). Proceedings of the Eleventh International Marine Biological Workshop: The Marine Flora and Fauna of Dampier, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum. 

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Kesteven, G.L. 1953. Further studies of tagging of sea mullet, Mugil cephalus on the eastern Australian coast. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 4: 251-306.

Klunzinger, C.B. 1872. Zur Fische-fauna von Süd Australien. Archiv für Naturgeschichte 38(1): 17-47 pl. 2 (as Mugil gelatinosus)

Klunzinger, C.B. 1879. Die v. Müller'sche Sammlung Australischer Fische. Anzeiger der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, Wien 16(22): 254-261 (as Mugil muelleri)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. 

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Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37381002

Feeding:Detritivore

Habitat:coastal marine, entering freshwater

Max Size:70 cm

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map