Leaping Bonito, Cybiosarda elegans (Whitley 1935)

Other Names: Bonito, Striped Bonito, Watson's Bonito, Watson's Leaping Bonito

A Leaping Bonito, Cybiosarda elegans. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial


Large schools of this poorly known bonito follow baitfishes to inshore waters during winter months. Body deep blue above with elongate dark spots, silvery-white below with several dark stripes along lower sides; first dorsal fin tall, black with a white patch at the rear; second dorsal fin yellow, anal fin often yellow.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Sascha Schultz, Cybiosarda elegans in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/719

Leaping Bonito, Cybiosarda elegans (Whitley 1935)

More Info


Widespread and relatively common around most of Australia except for the south coast; alos in southern Papua New Guinea. Known from Cape Naturaliste (WA) around the tropical north to Gabo Island (VIC).

An oceanic epipelagic species, commonly seen during winter when large schools move inshore to feed on bait fish such as anchovies and clupeids.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XVI-XVIII, 17-19, 8-10 finlets; Anal fin 15-17, 6-7 finlets; Pectoral fin 22-24; Gill rakers (first arch) 2-15.; Upper jaw teeth 13-22; Lower jaw teeth 10-17.

Body relatively short, strongly compressed; caudal peduncle with a well developed keel, flanked on each side by a smaller keel. Mouth large, upper jaw extending to hind margin of eye; conical teeth n both jaws. Laminae of olfactory rosette 28 to 33. Swimbladder absent.

Pectoral fins short, not reaching to below 10th dorsal fin spine. 


To at least 70 cm FL (commonly to 45 cm FL), with a maximum weight of around 5 kg.


Head deep bluish-grey above, sides yellow; body bluish-grey on the back, pale brownish on the sides, and silvery-white below; back with many small spots around the spinous dorsal-fin and large scattered dark greyish elongated spots elsewhere with three or four horizontal stripes on lowe sides. Spinous dorsal-fin black anteriorly, white at the posterior spines; other fins and finlets yellowish.


The species is often seen near schools of baitfish including anchovies and clupeids.


A poorly known species with little known of it's biology and ecology.


Although not directly targeted, this species may be taken as bycatch and in small coastal fisheries. Leaping Bonito are taken as bait by sports fishers and for commercial snapper fisheries.


IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Least Concern (LC)


Although little is known about this Bonito species, it appears to undertake a southerly migration along the east-coast each Austral summer, ranging into southern NSW and northern Victorian waters.

For a few weeks each year, Leaping Bonito can be seen in shallow bays and around rocky reefs as they migrate down the NSW coast.

Similar Species

The Leaping Bonito is best separated from other bonito species by the large, black, first dorsal fin and stripes along the belly. 

Species Citation

Scomberomorus (Cybiosarda) elegans Whitley, 1935, Rec. Aust. Mus. 19(4): 236, off Goat Island, Moreton Bay, QLD.


Dianne J. Bray & Sascha Schultz

Leaping Bonito, Cybiosarda elegans (Whitley 1935)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37441008

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-200 m

Fishing:Minor commercial


Max Size:70 cm FL (commonly 35-45cm)

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