Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Oligoplites saurus saurus, Leatherjack, Atlantic Leatherjack

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lower jaw not expanded, weakly convex lower profile
lower gill rakers 13-16
top front jaw: 2 rows teeth

Oligoplites saurus saurus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)

Leatherjack, Atlantic Leatherjack

Elongate, very compressed; snout pointed; upper jaw terminating at or slightly beyond rear edge of eye, its length 52-57% of head length; upper jaw with 2 distinct rows of teeth; lower jaw not expanded, with weakly convex lower profile; gill rakers (excluding rudiments) 17-21, lower rakers 13-16; dorsal rays V (rarely IV of VI)+I, 19-21; anal rays II+I, 19-22, fin base about = to that of soft dorsal fin; posterior 11-15 dorsal and anal soft rays forming semi-detached finlets; pectoral short (< head length); tail base slender; tail strongly forked; lateral line slightly arched over pectoral fin, but mainly straight; scales needle shaped, partly buried; no scutes on lateral line.

Overall silvery, greenish to bluish above, whitish or suffused with orange below; sometimes 7-8 irregular silver bars on body; tail fin clear to amber.

Size: grows to 35 cm, common to 25 cm.

Habitat: demersal; occurs in schools along sandy beaches, bays and estuaries; enters freshwater.

Depth: 0-30 m.

Massachusetts to Brazil.

Note: Anal spines are venomous.

Note: A separate subspecies, Oligoplites saurus inornatus, lives in the eastern Pacific.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Mid Water
  • Near Bottom
  • Near Surface
  • Surface
  • Sand & gravel
  • Water column
  • Beach
  • Estuary
  • Flotsam
  • Freshwater
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Bentho-Pelagic
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Ectoparasite cleaner
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Bony fishes
  • Ectoparasites
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • 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
  • 35
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 30