Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

Español  Contact

Species: Opistognathus whitehursti, Dusky Jawfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body mottled, + dark flecks
snout: dark bar between eyes
lips: white bars
D: +/- dark blotch between spines II-V
D, A & C: dark + rows pale spots or vice versa
nostril cirrus simple, slender

Opistognathus whitehursti (Longley, 1927)

Dusky Jawfish

Elongate, compressed, tapering body; large bulbous head; eye large, high; front nostril a short tube with a slender cirrus; mouth terminal, large, extends well to rear of eye; rear of top jaw rigid, not ending in a thin flexible plate; front of roof of mouth with 1-3 teeth; 1 row of teeth along side of first bone of top jaw; 24-32 gill rakers; fin spines flexible; dorsal and anal fins with long bases; dorsal X-XII, spines stiff, tips pointed and usually with pale, slightly swollen fleshy tabs, 13-15; anal III, 12-14; pelvic fins I, 5, outer 2 rays stout and unbranched, inner 3 rays weaker and branched, fin base before the pectoral; tail rounded, shorter than head, ~25% of SL; lateral line on front half of body only, high; scales small, smooth, none on head, body with 42-54 oblique scale rows.

Head and body dark brown, with mottling; sometimes upper head and back are whitish; body often with dark flecks, sometimes a faint dark stripe overlaid by blotches along mid-side; pale around opening to gut inside mouth; a dark bar on snout between eyes; top lips with a series of thin white bars; dorsal, anal and tail fins either pale, with rows of small brown spots or vice versa; dorsal fin with dark oval blotch between spines II-V in juveniles, often absent in adults.

Reaches 7.8 cm.

Lives in burrows on sand and rubble bottoms.

Depth range: 0-60 m.

The Bahamas to the southern Caribbean.

Note: Its Brazilian sister species is O. vicinus.

High Resolution Map Download

Species Data Create Report Export as Word File Export as Excel File
  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
Egg Type
  • Brooded
  • Data
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • GC endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 7.8
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 60