Key West fish identification. Sport fishing game fish photos and descriptions.
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Fish of the Florida Keys & Key West

Blue Marlin
BLUE MARLIN
(Makaira nigricans)

Description: color cobalt blue on top shading to silvery white on bottom; upper jaw elongated in form of spear; dorsal fin and pointed at front end; pectoral fin and anal fin pointed; lateral line reticulated (interwoven like a net), difficult to see in large specimens; no dark spots on dorsal fin; body covered with imbedded scales ending in one or two sharp points.

Found: OFFSHORE, a blue water fish.

Size: largest of the Atlantic marlins, common to 11 feet, known to exceed 2,000 pounds.

Atlantic Sailfish
SAILFISH
(Istiophorus platypterus)

Description: color dark blue on top, brown-blue laterally, silvery white underbelly; upper jaw elongated in form of spear; first dorsal greatly enlarged in the form of a sail, with many black spots, its front squared off, highest at its midpoint; pelvic fins very narrow, reaching almost to the anus; body covered with imbedded scales, blunt at end; lateral line curved over pectoral, then straight to base of tail.

Found: OFFSHORE species, in south Florida associated with waters near the Gulf Stream; off the Panhandle near the 100-fathom line.

Size: common to 7 feet.

Mako Shark
SHORTFIN MAKO SHARK
(Isurus oxyrinchus)

Description: lunate tail with similarly sized lobes; lateral keel at the base of the tail; deep blue back and white underside; underside of sharply pointed snout white; origin of first dorsal entirely behind base of pectoral fins; second dorsal fin slightly in front of anal fin; slender; recurved teeth with smooth edges.

Found: OFFSHORE fish often seen near the surface.

Size: commonly 6 to 8 feet (200 to 300 pounds).

Bonefish
BONEFISH
(Albula vulpes)

Description: silvery color with bluish or greenish back; slender, round body; snout long, conical, aiming downward and overhanging lower jaw; dark streaks between scales on upper half of body and faint crossbands extending down to lateral line; extremities of dorsal and caudal fins shaded with black..

Found: primarily INSHORE fish inhabiting shallows of the Florida Keys; found in shallows often less than 1 foot deep, usually over lush grass flats, occasionally over white sand.

Size: 3 to 5 pounds.

Tarpon
TARPON
(Megalops atlanticus)

Description: last ray of dorsal fin extended into long filament; one dorsal fin; back dark blue to green or greenish black shading into bright silver on the sides; may be brownish gold in estuarine waters; huge scales; mouth large and points upward.

Found: primarily INSHORE fish, although adult fish spawn OFFSHORE where the ribbon-like larval stage of the fish can be found.

Size: most angler catches 40 to 50 pounds.


PERMIT
(Trachinotus falcatus)

Description: color gray, dark or iridescent blue above, shading to silvery sides, in dark waters showing golden tints around breast; small permit have teeth on tongue (none on pompano); no scutes; dorsal fin insertion directly above that of the anal fin; 17 to 21 soft dorsal rays; 16 to 19 soft anal rays.

Found: OFFSHORE on wrecks and debris, INSHORE on grass flats, sand flats, and in channels; most abundant in south Florida, with smaller specimens from every coastal county.

Size: common to 25 pounds.

Red Grouper
RED GROUPER
(Epinephelus morio)

Description: color brownish red; lining of mouth scarlet-orange; blotches on sides in unorganized pattern; second spine of dorsal fin longer than others; pectoral fins longer than pelvic fins; squared-off tail; margin of soft dorsal black with white at midfin; black dots around the eyes.

Found: bottom dwelling fish associated with hard bottom; juveniles OFFSHORE along with adults greater than 6 years old; fish from 1 to 6 years old occupy NEARSHORE reefs.

Size: common to 15 pounds.


DOLPHIN
(Coryphaena hippurus)

Description: bright greenish blue above, yellow on sides, with capability of flashing purple, chartreuse, and a wide range of other colors; body tapers sharply from head to tail; irregular blue or golden blotches scattered over sides; anterior profile of head on adult males is nearly vertical; head of females more sloping; the single dark dorsal fin extends from just behind the head to the tail; anal fin margin concave and extending from anus to tail.

Found: OFFSHORE in warm waters.

Size: common to 30 pounds.

Mutton Snapper
Mutton Snapper
(Lutjanus analis)

Description: color olive green on back and upper sides, all fins below the lateral line having reddish tinge; bright blue line below eye, following contour of operculum; anal fin pointed; small black spot below dorsal fin; V-shaped tooth patch on roof of mouth.

Found: an INSHORE species associated with grassbeds, mangroves, and canals; larger adults occasionally found on OFFSHORE reefs.

Size: common to 15 pounds.

Text and graphics republished with permission from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Diane Rome Peebles. © Copying or redistribution by any means is strictly prohibited.




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Fish of the Florida Keys & Key West - species of game fish, reef & wreck fish
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