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Published by draculavanhelsing
fact sheet
fact sheet

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: draculavanhelsing on Jun 24, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Page 1 o 4
Tailor is one o the most popular recreational shing species along the west coast o Western Australia. They are relentless hunters that prowl in packs along inshore coastalwaters, estuaries and nearshore rees, slicing their way through schools o bait sh.
Pomatomus saltatrix
Tailor by name and by nature
With a missile-shaped head, orked tail and powerulstreamlined rame, they are ideally suited to theturbulent waters o sur beaches and coastal rees.The most striking eature o the tailor is itsimpressive protruding lower jaw with a mouthul o razor sharp teeth. These ‘choppers’ are ideal orslicing through schools o bait sh and can be a riskto the ngers o unwary shers.Although they are silvery in colour, they can display adistinctly green, olive or bluish tinge along their backs.Their ns are a pale green with a tinge o yellow.The common name, tailor, originates rom the sh’sability to cut through shing nets with its sharp teeth(as illustrated in the picture below).
Tailor are widely distributed in cool tropical and warm temperatewaters o most oceans, in eight isolated populations along thecoast o Brazil, the west coast o the USA, Mediterranean andBlack seas, western Arica, southern Arica, and the east andwest coasts o Australia.Across its distribution, tailor are known by many dierentnames, such as
in the USA,
on the west coast o South Arica,
on the east coast o South Arica, and either
in South America.In WA, tailor range rom Exmouth all the way down the coast, asar south as Albany.
Tailor are the onlyspecies belonging to theamily Pomatomidae.
Worldwide distributiono tailorPhoto: Amber Howard
Page 2 o 4
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.
Feeding renzy
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, areoten reerred to ‘choppers’ because o their behaviour inbiting prey into pieces beore consuming them. Usually, thetail is bitten o rst to disable the prey, with the remainscleaned up aterwards or by other sh in the school. Feedingrenzies on schools o baitsh have been witnessed within acouple o metres o the water’s edge.Adult tailor will prey on sea mullet, yellow-eye mullet, whiting,garsh, 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.
Sur’s up
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 rees alongthe shoreline. Oshore rees 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 specic regions along the coast variesrom 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 purposeully over the ree to seek outprey fsh. Photo: F. Cardigos, ImagDOPTiny tailor: a juvenile tailor soon to become a ‘chopper’.Photo: Dan Pupazzoni
Page 3 o 4
On the move
Tailor move in schools o similar size and preer a narrowwater temperature range o between 18°C and 25°C.Scientists have tagged tailor to show that some sh migrate inboth a northerly and southerly direction along the coast whileothers preer to stay close to home.One tailor was tagged at Port Gregory (between Geraldton andKalbarri) and was recaptured two weeks later at Jurien atertraveling some 374 kilometres.When tailor reach maturity, they leave the protection o estuaries and begin schooling along the beaches duringspring and summer. This migration rom estuaries isreerred to as the ‘summer run’ o tailor by many shers.As water temperatures begin to cool down ater summer,these tailor move oshore in what is thought to be apre-spawning migration.
Fishy science
The Departmento Fisheries’ tailorresearch programhas been runningsince 1994. Tailorhave been caught,measured andreleased at variouslocations on theSwan River and alongmetropolitan beaches.This is one o anumber o exampleswhere volunteers,under the supervisiono Department o Fisheries’ scientists,have provided crucialhelp with sheries research.The catch-rate o juvenile tailor caught each year by volunteershers provides an index o annual recruitment strength. Thisis used by researchers to monitor the status – or health – o the Perth tailor shery.Otoliths (ear bones) o juvenile tailor are also being studiedin detail to enable researchers to assess the age o thesh samples. As tailor is a ast-growing sh, researcherscan estimate the sh’s age in days, rather than years. Thisinormation is used to calculate the day they were spawnedand, i combined with inormation on prevailing currents, canbe used to deduce possible areas where they were spawned.Evidence rom juvenile tailor research in the Swan Riversuggests that tailor in Perth originate rom two separatespawning events. These juveniles usually comprisetwo separate size groups o sh, which dier in age byapproximately three to our months. It appears that onegroup is spawned locally around Perth during autumn, whilethe other group is spawned to the north, probably aroundGeraldton or Kalbarri, during spring. The northern group aretransported as larvae to Perth by ocean currents.Thereore, sheries managers need to careully manage tailorpopulations in both spawning areas, not just in Perth, toensure the sustainability o the Perth shery.A pilot study is being conducted on the movement o tailorusing ‘high tech’ sheries acoustic tags. These tags aresurgically implanted into the sh and emit regular signals thatare picked up by acoustic receivers or listening posts.
The length requency o tailor caught in the Swan Rivershowing two distinct size groups.The number and requency o juvenile tailor caught by theparticipants in the monitoring program.
Monsters and jumbos
The waters between Carnarvon and Kalbarri are the renownedhaunt or the largest ‘monster’ tailor in the State. In thesouthern part o its range, large tailor, oten called ‘jumbos’by recreational shers, can occasionally be ound ollowingschools o Western Australian salmon.
An adult tailor being tagged or science. Photo: Josh BrownFisheries volunteer Laurie Birchall withthe 10,000 tailor to have been caughtsince the monitoring program began.Photo: Ben Carlish

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