Family: OPISTOGNATHIDAE, Jawfish, Jawfishes
large head, eyes high
D & A: long bases
Small to medium sized fishes (3-50 cm), with narrow tapering bodies; an enlarged, bulbous head and a large mouth; eyes large, high on head; dorsal fin continuous, IX-XII spines, no notch between spines and rays; dorsal and anal fins with long bases; pelvic fins I, 5, outer 2 rays stout and unbranched, inner 3 rays weaker and branched, fin base before the pectoral; tail fin round to long and pointed; lateral line high on side, ends under the middle of the dorsal fin; scales smooth, on body only.
The group occurs in all warm seas, containing an estimated 61 species in 3 genera. In our region there are 15 species from two genera, 11 endemics and 4 from the W Atlantic.
PREPARED BY D ROSS ROBERTSON, AFTER SMITH-VANIZ (2002)