ChordataActinopterygii Achoerodus viridis
The Eastern Blue Groper is found along most of the eastern Australian coastline in a wide range of reef habitats from Hervey Bay in southern Queensland to Wilsons Promontory in Victoria. It was made the NSW fish emblem in 1996. Despite the common name these fish are wrasse, not true gropers.
The animals grow to a little over 1 metre in length and are possibly the most recognised fish by divers on the east coast. Eastern blue gropers. They can grow to 1.2 metres in length and weigh up to 22 kilograms, living as long as 35 years. They have peg teeth, heavy scales, a large tail and thick lips.
They feed on invertebrates such as sea urchins, crabs and other small crustaceans and mussels.
Interestingly the Blue Groper is one of numerous species of fish that can change sex over its lifetime. All Blue Groper commence life as females but can become male later in life if the local dominant male dies.
Females are smaller than males and are often brownish in colour. Males achieve a rich dark blue colour. Juveniles start out as a green colour and then change to the brown of the female.
The blue groper has been a protected species in New South Wales since 1969.