California Barracuda
Sphyraena argentea

Physical Description

  • Fish with an elongated cylinder-shaped body
  • Have a slender, long, pointy snout and a large mouth full of canine-like teeth
  • Grayish-blue coloration on their back and sides, white or silver on bellies. Tail is more yellow in color
  • Two dorsal (back) fins that are small and widely spaced
  • They are distinct from other barracudas due to their silvery shiny backsides, small scales, and the lack of bars or spots on their body¬†
  • Adult males are olive or yellow on the edges of their anal and pelvic (bottom) fins, adult females have a charcoal black edge on those fin
  • They can reach a length of about 4 feet and a weight of about 15 pounds
  • An average female weighs 10 pounds


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


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


  • Off Southern California, spawning season occurs from April to September, peaking in June
  • Reproduction occurs by external fertilization, where eggs and sperm are expelled into the water
  • Barracuda can spawn more than once per season
  • A female may produce 50,000 eggs at age 2 but up to 400,000 at age 6


  • 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


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

Interesting Facts

  • Known as the “Tigers of the Sea” due to their ferocious, aggressive nature around their prey.
  • 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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