Herring Cale

Odax Cyanomelas
Herring Cale - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Odax Cyanomelas
Other names Blue Moki, Blue Cale
Size Up to 51 cm (20 in)
Weight Up to 1.25 kg (2.75 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst rocky areas & reefs in surge zones
Depth Range 1 - 10 m (33 ft)
Herring Cale Distribution

Interesting Info

  • Herring Cales are predominantly found in shallow coastal waters along the southern coast of Australia, from southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and southern parts of Western Australia.
  • They have an elongated, laterally compressed body with a distinct herring-like appearance, hence their name. Male fish are characterised by a silvery-blue to greenish coloration on their upper body and a lighter silver underside. Female fish are yellowish brown with wavy patterns on their sides. Both possess small, sharp teeth designed for feeding on algae and other plant material.
  • They are herbivorous fish, feeding primarily on various types of algae, seaweed, and plant material found on rocky surfaces and within kelp forests.
  • The Herring Cale is native to the coastal waters of southern Australia and is considered an endemic species, meaning it is not found naturally in any other parts of the world.
  • The breeding season for Herring Cales typically occurs during the austral autumn and winter, from April to September. During this time, they engage in courtship displays, where males often change colours to attract females.
  • Herring Cales are oviparous, which means they lay eggs that hatch outside the body. After successful courtship, the female will release adhesive eggs onto rocky surfaces or within crevices. The eggs are guarded by the male until they hatch, which usually takes several weeks.
  • Their estimated average lifespan is between 5 – 7 years.
Species Interaction

Snorkeling & Diving

Herring Cales are a common sight for snorkelers and divers exploring the coastal waters of southern Australia. Their habit of dwelling in relatively shallow depths makes them easily accessible for observation. They often swim in small schools, and their silvery blue appearance and unique shape make them easily recognisable underwater.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Odacidae

Genus: Odax

Species: Odax Cyanomelas

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the Herring Cale in Australia is categorised as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, conservation statuses can change over time, so it’s essential to check for the most recent updates from relevant authorities.

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Inner Reef, Lagoon, Seagrass Beds

Danger: None

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