Scomberesox saurus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Beloniformes Scomberesocidae

Scientific Name: Scomberesox saurus (Walbaum, 1792)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Atlantic Saury, Garfish, Needlefish, Needlenose, Saurey Pike, Saurie, Saury, Saury-pike, Saury Pike, Skipper
French Aiguille de Mer, Balaou, Balaou Atlantique, Casteoudeou, Gastaudela, Orphie-maquereau, Voilier
Spanish Alcrique, Paparda, Paparda Del Atlántico, Parpadón, Potakarra, Relanzon, Sauro Atlántico
Esox brasiliensis Pennant, 1787
Esox saurus Walbaum, 1792
Grammiconotus bicolor Costa, 1862
Sayris bimaculatus Rafinesque, 1810
Sayris hians Rafinesque, 1810
Sayris maculata Rafinesque, 1810
Sayris recurvirostra Rafinesque, 1810
Sayris serrata Rafinesque, 1810
Scomberesox camperii Lacepède, 1803
Scomberesox equirostrum Lesueur, 1821
Scomberesox scutellatum Lesueur, 1821
Scomberesox storeri Dekay, 1842
Scombresox rondeleti Valenciennes, 1846
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. (ed.). 2015. Catalog of Fishes. Updated 7 January 2015. Available at: (Accessed: 7 January 2015).
Taxonomic Notes: Two subspecies are recognized, Scomberesox saurus saurus (Walbaum, 1792) from the Northern Hemisphere and S. saurus scombroides (Richardson, 1843) from the Southern Hemisphere (Hubbs and Wisner 1980, Collette 2004).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2012-07-09
Assessor(s): Collette, B.B.
Reviewer(s): Doan, Q., Polidoro, B., Carpenter, K.E., Strongin, K. & Corley, B.
This species occurs in the east and west Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Current fisheries are not thought to be causing major declines. It is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in the east and west Atlantic. In the east Atlantic it has been recorded from Iceland, Norway and Denmark (rarely), along the British Isles and into the Baltic Sea. In the west Atlantic, it occurs from the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Canada) to North Carolina (USA) and Bermuda (Robins and Ray 1986). This species is found in the Arctic Ocean (Andriyashev and Chernova 1995). It is widespread in the Mediterranean Sea region, including in the Adriatic and Aegean Seas out to Israel, the coast of Tunisia and Morocco. Records from the east Mediterranean Sea for recent years need to be confirmed.

It is a pelagic and ocenaic species with a depth range of zero to 30 m (Wisner 1990). 

Scomberesox saurus scombroides occurs in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. This subspecies is generally circumglobal in temperate waters of the south hemisphere. It is more common between 30°S-40°S, but it occurs more northerly to 15°S near Africa and to near the equator off Ecuador along South American west coast (particularly the young and juveniles).
Countries occurrence:
Algeria; Belgium; Bermuda; Canada; Cyprus; Denmark; Egypt; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Latvia; Lebanon; Libya; Lithuania; Malta; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Russian Federation; Spain; Sweden; Tunisia; Turkey; United Kingdom; United States; Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – eastern central; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):30
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Stock structure of North Atlantic Saury is not clear. It has been generally assumed that there are two different stocks in the northeast and northwest Atlantic (Pohle et al. 1992). There may be more complexity than this simple two stock model (Agüera and Brophy 2011). This fish seems to be common in its natural range.

The population size and trend in the Mediterranean Sea are unknown.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This is a pelagic, oceanodromous species. It is a highly migratory species, forming schools and is gregarious. Occasionally schools can be found close to shore in large numbers (Frimodt 1995). The species feeds on zooplankton and fish larvae, and it is preyed upon by fish, including tunas, marlin bluefish and cod (Frimodt 1995). Individuals often leap out of the water when chased by predators (Muus and Nielsen 1999).

In the Mediterranean Sea, it is a pelagic, oceanodromous species. It is a highly migratory species, forming schools and is gregarious. Intra-Mediterranean migration occurs for spawning (Fischer et al. 1987). The species is more commonly present in late spring and summer in the north part of the Mediterranean Sea, and is more common in the south part in the winter.

Scomberesox saurus saurusare is oceanic, epipelagic and planktivorous (Agüera and Brophy 2011). Young fish tend to inhabit waters that are 18°C or warmer (Dudley et al. 1985). Saury migrate as the ocean waters warm, as well as for feeding purposes to accumulate reserves (Nesterov, 1981), probably for reproduction, which takes place after the migration back from the feeding grounds (Agüera and Brophy 2011). Atlantic Saury have a protracted spawning period, spawning virtually all winter and spring in the Atlantic (Nesterov and Shiganova 1976). The spawning ground expands to lower latitudes as water temperature increases (Nesterov and Shiganova, 1976), with spawning taking place along the migration route. Sauries are serial spawners meaning that one female will probably reproduce in different localities as the area suitable for spawning expands. Atlantic Saury is a very fast-growing, short-lived species (Agüera and Brophy 201).
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This is a minor commercial species in the Mediterranean Sea, except during several weeks in the spawning season when it commands a good price. Small catches are reported from Morocco, although it may be of potential commercial interest.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no known major threats for this species. This is a minor commercial species in the Mediterranean Sea, except during several weeks in the spawning season when it commands a good price. The species is caught using lampara nets, surrounding nets, handlines and small driftnets. It also fished using fish aggregating devices (FADs). Catch statistics, where they exist, are extremely poor.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed in Annex I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea. This species may be present in marine protected areas that fall within its distribution. Driftnets have been banned in the Mediterranean Sea since 2002 for some species, including S. saurus.

Citation: Collette, B.B. 2015. Scomberesox saurus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T190211A15590295. . Downloaded on 18 August 2018.
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