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Species: Elops saurus, Northern Ladyfish

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

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Elops saurus Linnaeus, 1766

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