Leatherjackets are so cute. A big eye, a tiny mouth shaped for a kiss, sandpaper-like skin, a paintbrush-shaped tail and dorsal and anal fins used for propulsion.
Their body look stiff, but I don’t know if it really is. I remember spotting a juvenile leatherjacket with my son Adam from the floating jetty on Puhoi river. That tiny fish could easily make a “U” bent.
In Matheson Bay they are the guardians of the local kelp forest. I remember some winter dives when I met only leatherjackets (not counting spotties and triplefins). They were hovering above their bushes of kelp waiting for me. When I got closer, they joined me and stayied with me while I was passing their spot. When I got far enough, they returned home.
They have various personalities. Some of them ignore divers. Some others follow them from behind and turn away when divers turn to them. Others are so curious they try to bite the camera.
I’ve made this particular picture in the Goat Island marine reserve in winter. The fish were not disturbed as there were no people in the water so we could play ‘hide and seek’ in the kelp forest.