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Species: Elops saurus, Ladyfish, Northern Ladyfish

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81-85 (79-87) vertebrae
New England to Gulf of Mexico
LL 119-128



Elops saurus Linnaeus, 1766

Ladyfish, Northern Ladyfish

Body long and slender, fusiform, oval in cross section; large eye; mouth long, opens at front or jaw slightly shorter; with an elongate bony plate between lower jaws; teeth small and granular; gill rakers (excluding rudiments) 6-8 + 10-15; fins without spines; 1 dorsal fin, rays 21-25, upper margin concave; anal rays 14-17; pectoral fins very low on side; anal fin base slightly shorter than dorsal fin base; pelvic fins 10-16, at middle of belly, under or slightly in front of level of origin of dorsal fin; tail fin deeply forked; lateral line is straight and complete; scales small, about 119-128 in lateral line.

Silvery, with bluish to greenish tones above; fins sometimes with a yellow tint.

Size: reaches about 91 cm.

Estuaries, hypersaline lagoons, and shallow inshore waters, particularly in bays, lagoons, and mangrove areas; mature adults further offshore.

Depth: 0-10 m.

New England to the Gulf of Mexico, possibly isolated specimens to Guyana.

Note: Externally (fin ray counts, scale counts, gill raker counts, body proportions,) indistinguishable from E. smithi; the 2 species can be distinguished genetically, and by the number of vertebrae they have: 81-85 (79-87) in E. saurus, 75-78 ( 73-80) in E. smithi; apparent differences in lateral line scale counts are related to the latitude where larva developed, not where they were spawned. Larvae of E. smithi that drift north of the Caribbean and establish within the range of E. saurus die out within a year or so of their arrival (see McBride et al 2010).

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Near Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Water column
  • Beach
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
  • Mud
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Insects
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 91
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 10