Latchet, Pterygotrigla polyommata (Richardson 1839)

Other Names: Butterfly Gurnard, Flying Gurnard, Lachet Gurnard, Pastry, Sharpbeak Gurnard, Sharp-beaked Gurnard, Spiny Gurnard, Spinybeak Gurnard

A Latchet, Pterygotrigla polyommata. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

A reddish gurnard becoming silvery below, with a red to brownish blotch below each dorsal fin, red dorsal and caudal fins, a white anal fin, and pinkish pelvic fins.
The large pectoral fins are purplish with white speckles on the outer surface. The inner surface is olive green with broad transverse bluish bands or rows of spots, and two or more large pale-edged black spots near the base. 
The Latchet has two long spines on the snout (rostral spines).

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Pterygotrigla polyommata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

Latchet, Pterygotrigla polyommata (Richardson 1839)

More Info


Widespread in southern Australia, from the Newcastle region, New South Wales, to  south of Shark Bay, Western Australia, including Tasmania. Elsewhere, the species occurs off the North Island, New Zealand. 
Inhabits sandy or muddy areas on the continental shelf and upper slope; juveniles enter bays and estuaries, especially in southern Tasmania.


Dorsal fin VII-VIII, 12; Anal fin 12; Caudal fin 11; Pectoral fin 12+3; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 63-70.
Body of moderate depth (23-28% SL, excluding rostral spines) and length, thick, tapering posteriorly to slender caudal peduncle. Head of moderate size (31-38% SL), prominent, rectangular in cross section, encased in bone; profile of snout in front of eyes straight to slightly concave; eyes large (23-26% HL excluding rostral spines), interorbital sharply depressed; mouth small (upper jaw length 38-42% HL), horizontal; teeth granular, band in each jaw; long spines on operculum, above pectoral fin base and on bony process on each side of dorsal-fin origin; no groove above and behind each eye; bony rostrum enclosing upper lip with a pair of long, forward directed spines.  
Scales tiny, cycloid, somewhat embedded, in approximately 110-120 diagonal rows, covering all of body except area just behind head and anterior portion of belly; lateral line smoothly curved, closer to dorsal profile anteriorly than to lateral midline; lateral line scales larger than embedded scales, without spines; scales only along base of first dorsal fin forming row of broad bony bucklers without spines.
Dorsal fin in two parts, first tall and curved, second elongate and slightly shorter, but of more even height; anal fin similar to second dorsal; caudal fin forked. Pectoral fins prominent, tip reaching distinctly beyond ventral fin tips; lower three rays thickened and not interconnected by membranes. Pelvic fins prominent, reaching to or slightly past origin of anal fin.


Reddish becoming silvery below, with red to brownish blotches below each dorsal fin, red dorsal and caudal fins, a white anal fin, and purplish pectoral fins purplish with white speckles on the outer surface, and the inner surface blue to purple with broad transverse olive to bright yellow bands or rows of spots, and two large white edged black spots basally; pelvic fins pinkish.


This species is taken fairly frequently by trawlers and is often sold in fish markets. The flesh is of somewhat lesser quality compared with the closely related red gurnard.


The specific name polyommata is from the Latin poly (= many) and ommata (= eyed), in reference to the “two large, contiguous, black, eye-like marks with narrow white borders” on each pectoral fin.

Species Citation

Trigla polyommata Richardson 1839, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 7: 96. Type locality: Van Diemen's Land (= Port Arthur, Tasmania).


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Latchet, Pterygotrigla polyommata (Richardson 1839)


Allan, R. 2002. Australian Fish and How to Catch Them. Sydney : New Holland Publishers (Australia) 394 pp. 

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp. 

Coleman, N. & Mobley, M. 1984. Diets of commercially exploited fish from Bass Strait and adjacent Victorian waters, southeastern Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 35(5): 549-560.

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Triglidae. pp. 494-505 figs 442-450 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. 

Gomon, M.F. & Last, P.R. 2008. Family Triglidae. pp. 508-514 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds). The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. 

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

Last, P. R. & Richards, W.J. 2012. Two new gurnards of the genus Pterygotrigla (Scorpaeniformes: Triglidae) from Australian seas. Zootaxa 3195: 39-50.

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp. 

Neira, F.J., Miskiewicz, A.G. & Trnski, T. 1998. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. Nedlands, Western Australia : University of Western Australia press 474 pp.

Richardson, J. 1839. Account of an interesting collection of fish formed at Port Arthur, Van Diemen's Land. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 7: 95-100 See ref at BHL 

Struthers, C.D. & Gomon, M.F. 2015. 159 Family Triglidae. pp. 1107-1113 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds). The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 3 pp. 577-1152.

Waite, E.R. 1899. Scientific results of the trawling expedition of H.M.C.S. Thetis off the coast of New South Wales. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 4: 1-132 figs 1-10 pls 1-31

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37288006

Behaviour:10-484 m

Habitat:Sandy & muddy areas

Max Size:62 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map