Marine Fishes of North Carolina


The marine fishes of North Carolina are much more difficult to quantify than the freshwater fishes. Freshwater fishes are contained in the particular river, creek or lake in which they live, but non-native marine fishes could potentially get caught in the Gulf Stream, or drift with changing weather, and end up in state waters. Technically, NC state waters only extend 3 miles from the coast, so many of the “marine fishes of North Carolina” that anglers come to the state to catch, don’t even live in the state! In an attempt to make sense of what actually qualifies as a marine fish from the state, we have put together a rough and unpublished list based on state and federal data sets, and personal observations. Authored by Fritz Rohde (NMFS), Scott Smith (NCDMF), and Christina Schobernd (NMFS), it is the most complete compilation of its type that we are familiar with, and includes marine fishes that live off the coast of the state, without regard to the territorial 3 mile limit.

If you wish to browse our photographic library of the fishes instead, please see the following page:

Marine Fishes Photograph Gallery

Hippocampus erectus
Northern Seahorse – Hippocampus erectus
Acanthuridae

Acanthurus chirurgus
Acanthurus coeruleus

Achiridae

Achirus lineatus
Gymnachirus melas
Trinectes maculatus

Acipenseridae

Acipenser brevirostrum
Acipenser oxyrinchus

Acropomatidae

Synagrops bellus
Synagrops spinosus
Synagrops trispinosus

Albulidae

Albula vulpes

Alepisauridae

Alepisaurus ferox

Alopiidae

Alopias superciliosus
Alopias vulpinus

Ammodytidae

Ammodytes americanus

Anguillidae

Anguilla rostrata

Antennariidae

Antennarius ocellatus
Antennarius radiosus
Atennarius striatus
Histrio histrio

Apogonidae

Apogon affinis
Apogon gouldi
Apogon maculatus
Apogon pseudomaculatus
Astrapogon alutus
Phaeoptyx conklini

Argentinidae

Argentina silus
Argentina striata
Glossanodon pygmaeus

Ariidae

Ariopsis felis
Bagre marinus

Ariommatidae

Ariomma bondi
Ariomma melanum
Ariomma regulus

Atherinopsidae

Membras martinica
Menidia beryllina
Menidia menidia

Aulopidae

Aulopus filamentosus

Aulostomidae

Aulostomus maculatus

Batrachoididae

Opsanus species
Opsanus tau
Porichthys plectrodon

Belonidae

Ablennes hians
Platybelone argalus
Strongylura marina
Tylosurus acus
Tylosurus crocodilus

Berycidae

Beryx decadactylus
Beryx splendens

Blenniidae

Chasmodes bosquianus
Hypleurochilus geminatus
Hypsoblennius hentz
Hypsoblennius ionthas
Ophioblennius macclurei
Parablennius marmoreus
Scartella cristata

Bothidae

Bothus ocellatus
Bothus robinsi
Engyophrys senta
Monolene antillarum
Monolene sessilicauda
Trichopsetta ventralis

Bramidae

Brama brama
Brama caribbea
Brama dussumieri
Pterycombus brama
Taractes rubescens
Taractichthys longipinnis

Bythitidae

Stygnobrotula latebricola
Bythites gerdae
Thalassobathia sp.
Diplacanthopoma sp.

Callionymidae

Diplogrammus pauciradiatus
Foetorepus agassizii
Paradiplogrammus bairdi

Caproidae

Antigonia capros
Antigonia combatia

Carangidae

Alectis ciliaris
Caranx bartholomaei
Caranx crysos
Caranx hippos
Caranx latus
Caranx lugubris
Caranx ruber
Chloroscombrus chrysurus
Decapterus macarellus
Decapterus punctatus
Decapterus tabl
Elagatis bipinnulata
Hemicaranx amblyrhynchus
Naucrates ductor
Oligoplites saurus
Pseudocaranx dentex
Selar crumenophthalmus
Selene setapinnis
Selene vomer
Seriola dumerili
Seriola fasciata
Seriola rivoliana
Seriola zonata
Trachinotus carolinus
Trachinotus falcatus
Trachinotus goodei
Trachurus lathami
Uraspis secunda

Carapidae

Carapus bermudensis

Carcharhinidae

Carcharhinus acronotus
Carcharhinus brevipinna
Carcharhinus falciformis
Carcharhinus isodon
Carcharhinus leucas
Carcharhinus limbatus
Carcharhinus longimanus
Carcharhinus obscurus
Carcharhinus plumbeus
Galeocerdo cuvier
Negaprion brevirostris
Prionace glauca
Rhizoprionodon terraenovae

Centrolophidae

Hyperoglyphe perciformis
Schedophilus medusophagus

Centropomidae

Centropomus undecimalis

Cetorhinidae

Cetorhinus maximus

Chaenopsidae

Emblemaria piratula

Chaetodontidae

Chaetodon capistratus
Chaetodon ocellatus
Chaetodon sedentarius
Chaetodon striatus
Prognathodes aculeatus
Prognathodes aya
Prognathodes guyanensis

Chlorophthalmidae

Chlorophthalmus agassizi
Parasudis truculenta

Clupeidae

Alosa aestivalis
Alosa mediocris
Alosa pseudoharengus
Alosa sapidissima
Brevoortia smithi
Brevoortia tyrannus
Clupea harengus
Dorosoma cepedianum
Dorosoma petenense
Etrumeus teres
Harengula jaguana
Opisthonema oglinum
Sardinella aurita

Congridae

Ariosoma balearicum
Bathycongrus dubius
Bathycongrus vicinalis
Conger oceanicus
Gnathophis bracheatopos
Heteroconger luteolus
Paraconger caudilimbatus
Rhynchoconger flavus
Rhynchoconger gracilior
Uroconger syringinus

Coryphaenidae

Coryphaena equiselis
Coryphaena hippurus

Cynoglossidae

Symphurus billykrietei
Symphurus civitatium
Symphurus diomedeanus
Symphurus marginatus
Symphurus minor
Symphurus nebulosus
Symphurus plagiusa
Symphurus pusillus
Symphurus urospilus

Cyprinodontidae

Cyprinodon variegatus

Dactylopteridae

Dactylopterus volitans

Dactyloscopidae

Dactyloscopus moorei
Dactyloscopus tridigitatus

Dalatiidae

Dalatias licha

Dasyatidae

Dasyatis americana
Dasyatis centroura
Dasyatis sabina
Dasyatis say

Diodontidae

Chilomycterus antillarum
Chilomycterus reticulatus
Chilomycterus schoepfii
Diodon eydouxii
Diodon holocanthus
Diodon hystrix

Echeneidae

Echeneis naucrates
Echeneis neucratoides
Phtheirichthys lineatus
Remora australis
Remora brachyptera
Remora osteochir
Remora remora
Echeneis naucrates
Echeneis neucratoides
Phtheirichthys lineatus
Remora australis
Remora brachyptera
Remora osteochir
Remora remora

Eleotridae

Dormitator maculatus
Eleotris amblyopsis
Erotelis smaragdus

Elopidae

Elops saurus

Emmelichthyidae

Erythrocles monodi

Engraulidae

Anchoa cubana
Anchoa hepsetus
Anchoa lyolepis
Anchoa mitchilli
Anchoviella perfasciata
Engraulis eurystole

Ephippidae

Chaetodipterus faber

Etmopteridae

Etmopterus gracilispinis

Exocoetidae

Cheilopogon cyanopterus
Cheilopogon exsiliens
Cheilopogon furcatus
Cheilopogon heterurus
Cheilopogon melanurus
Cypselurus comatus
Exocoetus obtusirostris
Exocoetus volitans
Hirundichthys affinis
Hirundichthys rondeletii
Parexocoetus brachypterus
Prognichthys occidentalis

Fistulariidae

Fistularia petimba
Fistularia tabacaria

Fundulidae

Fundulus confluentus
Fundulus heteroclitus
Fundulus luciae
Fundulus majalis
Lucania parva

Gadidae

Gadus morhua
Pollachius virens

Gasterosteidae

Apeltes quadracus

Gempylidae

Diplospinus multistriatus
Gempylus serpens
Lepidocybium flavobrunneum
Nealotus tripes
Nesiarchus nasutus
Promethichthys prometheus
Ruvettus pretiosus

Gerreidae

Diapterus auratus
Eucinostomus argenteus
Eucinostomus gracilis
Eucinostomus gula
Eucinostomus harengulus
Eucinostomus jonesi
Eucinostomus lefroyi
Eucinostomus melanopterus
Eugerres plumieri
Gerres cinereus

Ginglymostomatidae

Ginglymostoma cirratum

Gobiesocidae

Gobiesox strumosus

Gobiidae

Awaous banana
Bathygobius soporator
Bollmannia sp.
Coryphopterus glaucofraenum
Coryphopterus punctipectophorus
Ctenogobius boleosoma
Ctenogobius saepepallens
Ctenogobius shufeldti
Ctenogobius stigmaticus
Elacatinus xanthiprora
Evermannichthys spongicola
Evorthodus lyricus
Gnatholepis thompsoni
Gobioides broussonetii
Gobionellus oceanicus
Gobiosoma bosc
Gobiosoma ginsburgi
Gobiosoma robustum
Lythrypnus elasson
Lythrypnus phorellus
Lythrypnus spilus
Microgobius carri
Microgobius gulosus
Microgobius microlepis
Microgobius thalassinus
Priolepis hipoliti

Grammicolepididae

Grammicolepis brachiusculus
Xenolepidichthys dalgleishi

Gymnuridae

Gymnura altavela
Gymnura micrura

Haemulidae

Haemulon aurolineatum
Haemulon plumierii
Haemulon sciurus
Haemulon striatum
Orthopristis chrysoptera

Hemiramphidae

Euleptorhamphus velox
Hemiramphus balao
Hemiramphus brasiliensis
Hyporhamphus unifasciatus
Hyporhamphus meeki
Oxyporhamphus micropterus

Hexanchidae

Heptranchias perlo
Hexanchus griseus

Holocentridae

Corniger spinosus
Holocentrus adscensionis
Holocentrus rufus
Myripristis jacobus
Sargocentron bullisi

Inermiidae

Inermia vittata

Ipnopidae

Bathytyphlops sp.

Istiophoridae

Istiophorus platypterus
Makaira nigricans
Tetrapturus albidus
Tetrapturus pfluegeri

Kyphosidae

Kyphosus incisor
Kyphosus sectatrix

Labridae

Bodianus pulchellus
Bodianus rufus
Decodon puellaris
Halichoeres bathyphilus
Halichoeres bivittatus
Halichoeres caudalis
Halichoeres cyanocephalus
Halichoeres garnoti
Halichoeres poeyi
Halichoeres radiatus
Lachnolaimus maximus
Tautoga onitis
Tautogolabrus adspersus
Thalassoma bifasciatum
Xyrichtys novacula

Labrisomidae

Labrisomus nuchipinnis
Starksia ocellata

Lamnidae

Carcharodon carcharias
Isurus oxyrinchus
Isurus paucus
Lamna nasus

Lamprididae

Lampris guttatus

Liparidae

Careproctus ranula
Liparis inquilinus

Lobotidae

Lobotes surinamensis

Lophiidae

Lophioides beroe
Lophioides monodi
Lophioides reticulatus
Lophius americanus
Lophius gastrophysus

Lutjanidae

Etelis oculatus
Lutjanus analis
Lutjanus apodus
Lutjanus buccanella
Lutjanus campechanus
Lutjanus cyanopterus
Lutjanus griseus
Lutjanus jocu
Lutjanus mahogoni
Lutjanus purpureus
Lutjanus synagris
Lutjanus vivanus
Ocyurus chrysurus
Pristipomoides aquilonaris
Pristipomoides freemani
Rhomboplites aurorubens
Apsilus dentatus

Luvaridae

Luvarus imperialis

Macroramphosidae

Macroramphosus scolopax

Macrouridae

Nezumia bairdii
Coryphaenoides armatus
Coryphaenoides brevibarbis
Coryphaenoides carapinus
Coryphaenoides leptolepis
Malacocephalus laevis
Malacocephalus occidentalis
Nezumia aequalis
Nezumia sclerorhynchus
Ventrifossa macropogon

Megalopidae

Megalops atlanticus

Melamphaidae

Scopeloberyx opisthopterus

Merluccidae

Merluccius albidus
Merluccius bilinearis

Microdesmidae

Microdesmus longipinnis

Mobulidae

Manta birostris
Mobula hypostoma

Molidae

Masturus lanceolata
Mola mola

Monacanthidae

Aluterus heudelotii
Aluterus monoceros
Aluterus schoepfii
Aluterus scriptus
Cantherhines pullus
Monacanthus ciliatus
Monacanthus tuckeri
Stephanolepis hispidus
Stephanolepis setifer

Moridae

Antimora rostrata
Gadella imberbis
Laemonema barbatulum
Laemonema melanurum
Physiculus karrerae

Moringuidae

Moringua edwardsi
Neoconger mucronatus

Moronidae

Morone americana
Morone saxatilis

Mugilidae

Agonostomus monticola
Mugil cephalus
Mugil curema

Mullidae

Mulloidichthys martinicus
Mullus auratus
Pseudupeneus maculatus
Upeneus parvus

Muraenidae

Anarchias similis
Gymnothorax conspersus
Gymnothorax hubbsi
Gymnothorax kolpos
Gymnothorax miliaris
Gymnothorax moringa
Gymnothorax nigromarginatus
Gymnothorax ocellatus
Gymnothorax polygonius
Gymnothorax saxicola
Gymnothorax vicinus
Monopenchelys acuta
Muraena retifera
Muraena robusta
Uropterygius macularius

Myctophidae

Benthosema glaciale
Benthosema suborbitale
Bolinichthys distofax
Bolinichthys supralateralis
Centrobranchus nigroocellatus
Ceratoscopelus maderensis
Ceratoscopelus warmingii
Diaphus brachycephalus
Diaphus dumerilii
Diaphus garmani
Diaphus lucidus
Diaphus minax
Diaphus mollis
Diaphus perspicillatus
Diaphus splendidus
Diaphus taaningi
Diogenichthys atlanticus
Electrona risso
Gonichthys cocco
Hygophum benoiti
Hygophum hygomii
Hygophum reinhardti
Lampadena chavesi
Lampanyctus alatus
Lepidophanes gaussi
Lepidophanes guentheri
Lobianchia dofleini
Lobianchia gemellarii
Myctophum affine
Myctophum asperum
Myctophum obtusirostre
Myctophum punctatum
Myctophum selenops
Myctophum nitidulum
Nannobrachium atrum
Nannobrachium cf. cuprarium
Nannobranchium lineatum
Notolychnus valdiviae
Notoscopelus resplendens
Taaningichthys minimus

Myliobatidae

Aetobatus narinari
Myliobatis freminvillei
Myliobatis goodei

Myxinidae

Myxine glutinosa

Ophidiidae

Benthocometes robustus
Brotula barbata
Dicrolene introniger
Lepophidium brevibarbe
Lepophidium jeannae
Lepophidium profundorum
Lepophidium staurophor
Monomitopus agassizii
Monomitopus magnus
Neobythites marginatus
Ophidion grayi
Ophidion holbrooki
Ophidion josephi
Ophidion marginatum
Ophidion nocomis
Ophidion selenops
Otophidium omostigma

Ostraciidae

Acanthostracion polygonius
Acanthostracion quadricornis
Lactophrys trigonus
Lactophrys triqueter
Acanthostracion polygonius
Lactophrys triqueter

Paralepididae

Lestidiops affinis
Lestidium atlanticum
Lestrolepis intermedia
Magnisudis atlantica
Paralepis coregonoides
Paralepis elongata
Arctozenus risso

Paralichthyidae

Ancylopsetta dilecta
Ancylopsetta ommata
Citharichthys arctifrons
Citharichthys cornutus
Citharichthys gymnorhinus
Citharichthys macrops
Citharichthys spilopterus
Cyclopsetta fimbriata
Etropus crossotus
Etropus cyclosquamus
Etropus microstomus
Etropus rimosus
Gastropsetta frontalis
Paralichthys albigutta
Paralichthys dentatus
Paralichthys lethostigma
Paralichthys oblongus
Paralichthys squamilentus
Syacium micrurum
Syacium papillosum

Percophidae

Bembrops gobioides

Peristediidae

Peristedion miniatum
Peristedion thompsoni
Peristedion greyae
Peristedion gracile
Peristedion truncatum
Peristedion ecuadorense

Petromyzontidae

Petromyzon marinus

Phycidae

Enchelyopus cimbrius
Urophycis chuss
Urophycis earllii
Urophycis floridana
Urophycis regia
Urophycis tenuis

Pleuronectidae

Glyptocephalus cynoglossus
Pseudopleuronectes americanus

Poeciliidae

Gambusia holbrooki
Poecilia latipinna

Polymixiidae

Polymixia lowei

Polynemidae

Polydactylus octonemus
Polydactylus virginicus

Polyprionidae

Polyprion americanus

Pomacentridae

Abudefduf saxatilis
Abudefduf taurus
Chromis enchrysura
Chromis insolata
Chromis scotti
Stegastes adustus
Stegastes leucostictus
Stegastes partitus
Stegastes planifrons
Stegastes variabilis

Pomatomidae

Pomatomus saltatrix

Priacanthidae

Cookeolus japonicus
Heteropriacanthus cruentatus
Priacanthus arenatus
Pristigenys alta

Pristidae

Pristis pectinata

Pseudotriakidae

Pseudotriakis microdon

Pteroleoridae

Ptereleotris calliura

Rachycentridae

Rachycentron canadum

Rajidae

Raja eglanteria
Leucoraja garmani
Fenestraja plutonia
Leucoraja erinacea
Leucoraja ocellata
Amblyraja radiata
Breviraja claramaculata
Dipturus teevani

Regalecidae

Regalecus glesne

Rhincodontidae

Rhincodon typus

Rhinobatidae

Rhinobatos lentiginosus

Rhinopteridae

Rhinoptera bonasus

Scaridae

Cryptotomus roseus
Nicholsina usta
Scarus iseri
Sparisoma chrysopterum
Sparisoma radians
Sparisoma rubripinne

Sciaenidae

Bairdiella chrysoura
Cynoscion nebulosus
Cynoscion nothus
Cynoscion regalis
Equetus lanceolatus
Larimus fasciatus
Leiostomus xanthurus
Menticirrhus americanus
Menticirrhus littoralis
Menticirrhus saxatilis
Micropogonias undulatus
Pareques acuminatus
Pareques iwamotoi
Pareques umbrosus
Pogonias cromis
Sciaenops ocellatus
Stellifer lanceolatus
Umbrina coroides

Scomberesocidae

Scomberesox saurus

Scombridae

Acanthocybium solandri
Auxis rochei
Auxis thazard
Euthynnus alletteratus
Katsuwonus pelamis
Sarda sarda
Scomber colias
Scomber scombrus
Scomberomorus cavalla
Scomberomorus maculatus
Scomberomorus regalis
Thunnus alalunga
Thunnus albacares
Thunnus atlanticus
Thunnus obesus
Thunnus thynnus

Scophthalmidae

Scophthalmus aquosus

Scorpaenidae

Helicolenus dactylopterus
Idiastion kyphos
Neomerinthe hemingwayi
Pontinus longispinis
Pontinus nematophthalmus
Pontinus rathbuni
Pterois miles
Pterois volitans
Scorpaena agassizii
Scorpaena albifimbria
Scorpaena bergii
Scorpaena brasiliensis
Scorpaena calcarata
Scorpaena dispar
Scorpaena grandicornis
Scorpaena isthmensis
Scorpaena plumieri
Scorpaenodes tredecimspinosus

Scyliorhinidae

Galeus arae
Scyliorhinus retifer

Serranidae

Alphestes afer
Anthias nicholsi
Anthias tenuis
Baldwinella aureorubens
Baldwinella vivanus
Centropristis fuscula
Centropristis ocyurus
Centropristis philadelphica
Centropristis striata
Cephalopholis cruentata
Cephalopholis fulva
Dermatolepis inermis
Diplectrum bivittatum
Diplectrum formosum
Epinephelus adscensionis
Epinephelus drummondhayi
Epinephelus guttatus
Epinephelus itajara
Epinephelus morio
Epinephelus niveatus
Epinephelus striatus
Gonioplectrus hispanus
Hemanthias leptus
Hyporthodus flavolimbatus
Hyporthodus mystacinus
Hyporthodus nigritus
Liopropoma aberrans
Liopropoma eukrines
Liopropoma mowbrayi
Mycteroperca bonaci
Mycteroperca interstitialis
Mycteroperca microlepis
Mycteroperca phenax
Mycteroperca venenosa
Paranthias furcifer
Parasphyraenops incisus
Pronotogrammus martinicensis
Rypticus maculatus
Rypticus saponaceus
Schultzea beta
Serraniculus pumilio
Serranus annularis
Serranus atrobranchus
Serranus baldwini
Serranus chionaraia
Serranus notospilus
Serranus phoebe
Serranus subligarius
Serranus tabacarius

Setarchidae

Setarches guentheri

Somniosidae

Centroscymnus coelolepis
Somniosus microcephalus

Sparidae

Archosargus probatocephalus
Archosargus rhomboidalis
Calamus bajonado
Calamus calamus
Calamus leucosteus
Calamus nodosus
Calamus proridens
Diplodus argenteus
Diplodus holbrookii
Lagodon rhomboides
Pagrus pagrus
Stenotomus caprinus
Stenotomus chrysops

Sphyraenidae

Sphyraena barracuda
Sphyraena borealis
Sphyraena guachancho

Sphyrnidae

Sphyrna gilberti
Sphyrna lewini
Sphyrna mokarran
Sphyrna tiburo
Sphyrna zygaena

Squalidae

Squalus acanthias
Cirrhigaleus asper
Squalus cubensis
Squalus mitsukurii

Squatinidae

Squatina dumeril

Stromateidae

Peprilus burti
Peprilus paru
Peprilus triacanthus

Synaphobranchidae

Dysomma anguillare
Synaphobranchus affinis
Synaphobranchus kaupi

Syngnathidae

Anarchopterus criniger
Bryx dunckeri
Cosmocampus albirostris
Cosmocampus elucens
Cosmocampus cf. profundus
Hippocampus erectus
Hippocampus reidi
Microphis brachyurus lineatus
Syngnathus floridae
Syngnathus fuscus
Syngnathus louisianae
Syngnathus pelagicus
Syngnathus springeri

Synodontidae

Saurida brasiliensis
Saurida normani
Synodus foetens
Synodus intermedius
Trachinocephalus myops
Synodus poeyi
Synodus synodus
Bathysaurus ferox
Bathysaurus mollis

Tetragonuridae

Tetragonurus atlanticus

Tetraodontidae

Canthigaster jamestyleri
Canthigaster rostrata
Lagocephalus laevigatus
Lagocephalus lagocephalus
Sphoeroides dorsalis
Sphoeroides maculatus
Sphoeroides nephelus
Sphoeroides pachygaster
Sphoeroides spengleri
Sphoeroides testudineus

Torpedinidae

Torpedo nobiliana

Trachichthyidae

Gephyroberyx darwinii
Hoplostethus mediterraneus
Hoplostethus occidentalis

Trachipteridae

Desmodema polystictum
Zu cristatus

Triacanthodidae

Parahollardia lineata

Triakidae

Mustelus canis

Trichiuridae

Evoxymetopon taeniatus
Lepidotus altifrons
Trichiurus lepturus

Triglidae

Bellator brachychir
Bellator egretta
Bellator militaris
Prionotus alatus
Prionotus carolinus
Prionotus evolans
Prionotus ophryas
Prionotus roseus
Prionotus rubio
Prionotus scitulus
Prionotus stearnsi
Prionotus tribulus

Uranoscopidae

Astroscopus guttatus
Astroscopus y-graecum
Kathetostoma albigutta

Urolophidae

Urobatis jamaicensis

Xiphiidae

Xiphias gladius

Zeidae

Zenopsis conchifera

Zoarcidae

Lycenchelys verrillii

The fishes of NC banner