Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Bagre marinus, Gafftopsail Catfish, Gafftopsail Sea Catfish

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head shield largely smooth
nape not rising to D
A short base, 23-26



Bagre marinus (Mitchill, 1815)

Gafftopsail Catfish, Gafftopsail Sea Catfish

Head arched, little depressed; snout rounded as viewed from above; bony head shield with surface largely smooth(except granulated on center of elongate occipital process at rear of skull)), obscured by skin, its rear process narrow, tapering to rear, meeting a crescent shaped plate at base of dorsal fin spine; nape profile not angling up to dorsal fin; 2 pairs of close-set nostrils; no fleshy furrow extends across snout and connects rear nostrils; 2 pairs of barbels (on chin and top jaws), top pair with long flat filaments; teeth on roof of mouth in four patches that form a narrow tranverse arc; gill opening wide, membranes not adhering to breast; dorsal fin VII, spines of dorsal and pectoral fin with long flat filaments; second dorsal adipose fin well developed; pectoral 11-13; tail fin deeply forked; anal fin base short, 23-26 rays; tail fin deeply forked; a complete lateral line, with branches to top and bottom base of tail fin, no scales.

Brown to bluey grey above, lighter below; no dark blotch at front of anal fin.

Reaches 69 cm and reported to 100 cm.

Predominantly marine, common around river mouths, and in high-salinity mangrove lagoons.

Depth range: 1-50 m.

Cape Cod to the Gulf of Mexico

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Estuary
  • Mangrove
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
Egg Type
  • Brooded
  • Data
  • No pelagic larva
  • No pelagic phase
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 69
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 50