Gempylus serpens 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Gempylidae

Scientific Name: Gempylus serpens Cuvier, 1829
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Snake Mackerel
French Escolier Serpent
Spanish Escolar de Canal
Gempylus coluber Cuvier, 1832
Gempylus ophidianus Poey, 1860
Lemnisoma thyrsitoides Lesson, 1831
Muraena compressa Walbaum, 1792
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. (ed.). 2015. Catalog of Fishes. Updated 3 February 2015. Available at: (Accessed: 5 February 2015).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Not Applicable (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-02-19
Assessor(s): Ralph, G.
Reviewer(s): Allen, D.J. & Nieto, A.
Contributor(s): Grijalba Bendeck, L., Curtis, M., Pina Amargos, F., Williams, J.T., Smith-Vaniz, W.F. & Collette, B.B.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Comeros-Raynal, M.
European regional assessment: Not Applicable (NA)
In the European region the fish is known from the Azores and Madeira archipelago, and from the Canaries. This species is assessed as Not Applicable as it has a marginal occurrence in Europe. Its European population is considered to represent less than 1% of the global population.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The fish occurs worldwide in the tropical and subtropical seas. In the eastern Atlantic it is known from the Iberian Peninsula south to South Africa. In the western Atlantic it is known from Canada south to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil including throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. In the Indo-Pacific it is known from along East Africa to India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Hawaiian Islands. In the eastern Pacific it is known from California south along Central and South America to Chile. Its depth range is 0-950 m, but is usually recorded shallower than 200 m (Cervigon 1994, Parin and Nakamura 2002, McMillan et al. 2011).

In the European region the fish is known from the Azores and Madeira archipelagos (Santos et al. 1997, Carneiro et al. 2014), and from the Canaries (Rodríguez et al. 2004).
Countries occurrence:
Portugal (Azores, Madeira); Spain (Canary Is.)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – eastern central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):950
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No information for the European region, but assumed to be stable.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The fish is an oceanic, epi- and mesopelagic species and occurs from surface to depths of at least 950 m (Cervigon 1994, Parin and Nakamura 2002). It is usually solitary.

Adult Gempylus serpens occur close to the surface at night (nyctoepipelagic), while larvae and juveniles remain at the surface during the day (Nakamura and Parin 1993). Maximum size to 100 cm (SL), common to 60 cm (SL) (Parin and Nakamura 2002). Prey items include fishes (myctophids, exocoetids, sauries, scombrids), squid, and crustaceans (Nakamura and Parin 1993). Males mature at 43 cm (SL), females at 50 cm. Spawns in tropical waters throughout the year. Fecundity of about 300, 000 to 1,000,000 eggs (Nakamura and Parin 1993). Maximum recorded weight for this species is 3 kg (Richardson et al. 2010).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The fish has a minor commercial uses in fisheries and it is used as bait, occasionally. It can be found in markets sold frozen, as sausages or fish cake (Nakamura 1995), although trade within the European region is uncertain.  It is not eaten raw, but cooked in any way, also can be found in dried form (Titcomb 1972).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Gempylus serpens occasionally appears as bycatch in the tuna longline fishery, however, there are no major threats known for this species. Gempylus serpens was recorded as one of the top ten most common fishes caught by the U.S. Atlantic coastal pelagic longline fishery that targets swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, during a study conducted from January to April 2004.  Equivalent bycatch data for the European region are not available.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place or required.

Citation: Ralph, G. 2015. Gempylus serpens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T16509126A71175174. . Downloaded on 19 July 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided