California Barracuda
Sphyraena argentea

Physical Description

  • Elongated cylinder-shaped body
  • Slender, long, pointy snout 
  • Large mouth full of canine-like teeth
  • Brownish-bluish color on their back and sides, white or silver on bellies. Tail is yellowish
  • They can reach a length of about 4 feet and a weight of about 15 pounds

Range

  • From Kodiak Islands, Alaska to Cape San Lucas, Baja California 
  • Not common north of Santa Barbara

Habitat

  • Usually considered a pelagic, or open water, species
  • Usually near shores or coastal areas in adult life
  • When young, found in bays in shallow waters

Diet

  • A predatory fish, exhibiting aggressive behavior in order to feed on other small fishes
  • Their diet primarily consists of small fish such as anchovies, small pacific mackerels, grunion, squid, groupers, grunts, and even young barracuda

Predators

  • Eagles, terns, marine mammals, large fish, sharks

Interesting Facts

  • They are distinct from other barracudas due to their silvery shiny backsides, small scales, and the lack of bars or spots on their body 
  • They are often considered a sport fish by fishermen
  • They can form long, thin schools sometimes miles long! 

Sources: California Sea Grant; MarineBio Conservation Society; Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Photo: Daira Paulson

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