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Growing up ast
Tailor spend their entire lives chasing and eating a wide rangeo sh, a high protein diet that helps to uel their ast growthrate. Research shows that, on average, tailor grow at rate o 0.39 millimetres a day.In WA, tailor reachabout 20 centimetresin length at around oneyear o age, and reachspawning size at about35 centimetres, whenthey are between twoand three years old.By ve years they canweigh over a kilogramand measure over 60centimetres in length.In 1996, one o thelargest tailor everrecorded in theworld died at the Aquarium o Western Australia (ormerlyUnderwater World). This sh measured over a metre long and15.7 kilograms. When aged by the Department o Fisheries, itwas believed to be 11 years old.More recently, Department o Fisheries research scientistsreceived a sh rame (skeleton with the sh’s head and gutsintact) or the tailor research program that exceeded one metrein length. The bands in the otolith (ear bone) o the sh picturedbelow show the sh to have been more than 10 years old.
Juvenile tailor eed on small bait sh (such as whitebait, bluesardines, whiting, gobies and anchovies) and crustaceans.These small tailor, up to about 30 centimetres in length, areoten reerred to ‘choppers’ because o their behaviour inbiting prey into pieces beore consuming them. Usually, thetail is bitten o rst to disable the prey, with the remainscleaned up aterwards or by other sh in the school. Feedingrenzies on schools o baitsh have been witnessed within acouple o metres o the water’s edge.Adult tailor will prey on sea mullet, yellow-eye mullet, whiting,garsh, mulies and blue mackerel. They will also eat small orinjured members o their own species. It is not unusual to seetailor with varying degrees o scars and healed bite marks.During daylight hours, schools o tailor tend to rest in deeperwaters away rom the shore. They wait until dusk and dawn tobegin their main eeding runs close to shore.Tailor, in turn, are ood or a number o shark species.
Tailor prowl the sur zone in packs that can sometimes bespotted cruising behind breaking waves. Their well-suitedbody shape and design enables them to navigate through theturbulent sur with ease.Tailor are also ound around rocky outcrops and rees alongthe shoreline. Oshore rees are another prime habitat,especially or larger tailor.
Tailor are ‘serial spawners’ – they release eggs and milton a number o occasions during the spawning season.The ecundity o emales (number o eggs released perspawning) increases rapidly with age, rom about 370,000when around 30 centimetres in length, to 1.2 million eggsat 54 centimetres. Spawning occurs along the WA coast atvarious sites, rom spring through to autumn, dependingon the location.Tailor eggs and larvae are planktonic and are dispersed byocean currents. Once they metamorphose into juveniles,young tailor swim into sheltered marine areas and estuaries.It is likely that yearly variations in coastal currents infuencewhere juvenile tailor settle or end up. As a result, the levelo recruitment into specic regions along the coast variesrom one year to the next.
Daily increments visible by thenumber o bands on the otolith o a juvenile tailor. Photo: Chris DowlingThe ‘rame’ o the 10 year old plus tailor donated by a recreationalangler fshing in Augusta. Photo: Ian Keay
In the Mediterranean Sea, schools o tailor bitetheir way through sea cage nets to consumeaquacultured fnfsh.
A school o tailor move purposeully over the ree to seek outprey fsh. Photo: F. Cardigos, ImagDOPTiny tailor: a juvenile tailor soon to become a ‘chopper’.Photo: Dan Pupazzoni