MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Garfish (Belone belone)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

Garfish or needlefish are easily recognised by their long thin bodies and long needle like mouths. Adults can reach up to 1 m in length and are mostly silver with a blue to green back, which is a typical counter-shading pattern of pelagic fish. There is a single dorsal and anal fin set away from the head and close to the tail. The garfish is a commercially important species but many people are put off by the garfish's green skeleton. In juveniles, the lower jaw is much longer than the upper jaw but in adults the jaws are almost the same length.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

A migratory species, Belone belone, may be found throughout the British Isles during summer but during winter is only seen in southern areas.

Global distribution

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Habitat

Garfish are pelagic spending winter offshore and coming into shallow waters during summer. Belone belone will spawn during May and June in seagrass beds and their eggs have long sticky filaments that adhere to seagrass blades. The juveniles stay in shallower waters until they reach sexual maturity.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Long needle-like mouth full of sharp teeth.
  • Elongate, laterally compressed body.
  • Dorsal and anal fin set far away from the head, near the tail.
  • Pelvic fin set at about 3/4 along length of body.

Additional information

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Listed by

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Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Dipper, F., 2001. British sea fishes (2nd edn). Teddington: Underwater World Publications Ltd.

  2. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset http://www.aphotomarine.com/index.html Accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-10-01

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/7axhcw accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  5. Kent & Medway Biological Records Centre, 2017. Fish: Records for Kent.. Occurrence dataset https://doi.org/10.15468/kd1utk accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  6. Kent Wildlife Trust, 2018. Kent Wildlife Trust Shoresearch Intertidal Survey 2004 onwards. Occurrence dataset: https://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-10-01.

  7. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1990 to 1994. Occurrence dataset:https://doi.org/10.15468/aru16v accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  8. Merseyside BioBank., 2018. Merseyside BioBank (unverified). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/iou2ld accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  9. Moen, F.E. & Svensen, E., 2004. Marine Fish & Invertebrates of Northern Europe. Southend-on-Sea: Aqua Press.

  10. Muus, B.J. & Dahlstrom, P., 1974. Collins guide to the sea fishes of Britain and North-Western Europe. Wm Collins Sons & Co. Ltd: London.

  11. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.

  12. OBIS,  2018. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2018-10-15

  13. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Fish (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/htsfiy accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  14. WoRMS 2007. The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS). http://www.marinespecies.org, 2008-10-31

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Langmead, O. 2008. Belone belone Garfish. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 15-10-2018]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/40

Last Updated: 15/01/2008