Māori Name: pūwhara
Name Scientific: Kathetostoma giganteum
Availability: May to August
Attributes Weight: 1.5–5kg, up to 9kg
Attributes Length: 30–50cm, reaching 60cm
Giant stargazer is widespread in New Zealand coastal waters and more common around the southern part of the South Island at depths between 50 metres and 500 metres off the continental shelf. They bury themselves in soft sediment and prey on passing fish and crustaceans.
Mottled olive green/brown body above and white below with an elongated and flattened body and a prominent bony head with eyes that look upwards. A strong spine projects from each side behind the pectoral fin base. There are no scales.
Giant stargazer belongs to the Uranoscopidae family (armourhead stargazers). Related species: Spotted and Brown stargazers are related species in this family. Spotted stargazer (Genyagnus monopterygius) is green-brown to grey above and cream to pinkish-white or yellow below and is covered with large creamy-white oval spots. Brown stargazer (Gnathagnus innotabilis) is dark brown above and paler on the sides and below and averages 30 to 40 centimetres in length.
They are caught all year by trawling, principally around the South Island.
Did You Know
The Stargazer is an expert at ambush. It lies almost completely concealed in its sandy burrow with its upward-looking eyes on the watch, then rushes its prey and grabs it with its capacious vertical mouth.