Discover 8 Spectacular Fish Found in Puerto Rico

Bull Shark Attacking
Michael Gomes/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kathryn Dueck

Updated: June 16, 2023

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Located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico (and its associated islands) make up a small but biologically diverse area. Its northern coastline abuts the Atlantic Ocean, giving it access to a wealth of aquatic life. We’ve chosen eight to show you here:

Read on to learn more about these 8 spectacular fish found in Puerto Rico!

1. Great Barracuda

One of the most frightening fish found in Puerto Rico is the great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda), a highly predatory marine fish. It lurks in the reefs and open seas off the country’s coasts, swimming at depths up to 328 feet. Its distinguishing features include an elongated body and a set of powerful jaws. The lower jaw juts out further than the upper. Additionally, its teeth are sharp and fanglike. Bites to humans typically occur in one rapid strike and can be serious but rarely fatal. Great barracudas grow up to 6.56 feet in length with a maximum weight of 110 pounds. Their bodies are silvery with numerous dark bars on their upper half.

Great barracuda showing off its teeth.

The great barracuda is a highly predatory fish that populates Puerto Rico’s seabeds.

2. Atlantic Blue Marlin

The Atlantic blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) is an unusual-looking fish found in Puerto Rico. In fact, this species is famous for its extremely elongated, pointed snout. It can reach a massive size, growing up to 16.4 feet in length and weighing as much as 1,402 pounds. Its body is bluish-black with a silvery-white underside. In addition to eating other fish, it occasionally pursues octopi and squids. It is a highly migratory species that cruises the Atlantic Ocean usually as solitary individuals rather than schools.

Blue Marlin

The Atlantic blue marlin is an unusual-looking fish that can easily be spotted in Puerto Rico.

3. Tarpon

The tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) is a large fish inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean, though it has been known to cross the Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean. It swims off the coasts of Puerto Rico at depths of up to 130 feet, occasionally venturing into estuaries and rivers. Its fecundity is high, with some females producing over 12 million eggs. The tarpon grows up to 8.2 feet in length and weighs up to 355 pounds. The species ranges in color from dark blue to greenish-black to brassy. Because of its size and incredible leaps when hooked, sport fishers prize it highly.

tarpon

The tarpon is a large fish that swims off the coasts of Puerto Rico.

4. Goldspotted Eel

The goldspotted eel (Myrichthys ocellatus) is one of nature’s more colorful eels. True to its name, it bears dark-rimmed yellow spots on a pale tan or greenish-brown body. Its underside fades to pale green. It can grow up to 3.6 feet long. This striking fish swims among the reefs of Puerto Rico’s coasts at depths above 50 feet. It swims by undulating its elongated body. Occasionally, it moves under the sand. At night, it hunts for prey, mostly crabs.

Goldspotted Eel

The striking goldspotted eel swims among Puerto Rico’s reefs.

5. Bull Shark

The bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) is a notoriously large, broad species of shark found in Puerto Rico as well as in many other countries around the world. It is notable for being able to survive in marine, brackish, and freshwater environments, occasionally cruising up rivers to move inland. It prefers relatively shallow waters no deeper than 538 feet, usually swimming at depths above 100 feet. Bull sharks grow up to 13.1 feet in length with a maximum weight of 697.7 pounds. Their bodies are greyish with white undersides. The upper jaws of their mouths are filled with triangular, saw-edged teeth, and their snouts are blunt and broad.

Bull shark in Florida

The bull shark is a notoriously large species of shark found in Puerto Rico.

6. Yellowfin Tuna

The yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) is a massive marine fish found in Puerto Rico. It swims at depths up to 820 feet in the open ocean, typically avoiding reefs. Its name derives from its yellow dorsal and anal fins, especially its second dorsal and anal fins, which are long and sickle-shaped. Its dorsal and anal finlets are also yellow. The dorsal region is metallic dark blue, which changes to yellow further down and then fades to silver on the belly. The yellowfin tuna grows to a maximum length of 7.84 feet and weighs up to 440 pounds. This predatory fish schools with other fish according to size, often with other species, including porpoises.

Yellowfin tuna out in the open ocean in crystal clear blue water

The yellowfin tuna swims in the open ocean surrounding Puerto Rico.

7. Black Snake Mackerel

The black snake mackerel (Nealotus tripes) is a snake-like fish with an elongated, compressed body. It appears off the coast of Puerto Rico at depths between 3,000 and 5,400 feet. Its mouth is expansive and filled with fanglike teeth. Although it is capable of swimming at great depths, it often migrates to the surface at night. Despite its intimidating appearance, the black snake mackerel only grows up to 9.84 inches in length, averaging about 5.9 inches. Its body is blackish-brown with pale brown dorsal and anal fins.

Black snake mackerel

The black snake mackerel is a snake-like fish that appears off the coast of Puerto Rico at great depths.

8. Cardinal Soldierfish

The last fish on our list, the cardinal soldierfish (Plectrypops retrospinus), stands out for its brilliant reddish-orange coloration. This species swims no deeper in the ocean than 72 feet, preferring to remain in the holes and caves of coral reefs. Because of its reclusive nature, swimmers rarely spot it. Its small size, no greater than 5.9 inches in length, helps it remain hidden despite its flamboyant color.

Cardinal Soldierfish

The cardinal soldierfish stands out among Puerto Rico’s most spectacular fish for its brilliant reddish-orange coloration.

Summary of 8 Spectacular Fish Found in Puerto Rico:

Name of FishMaximum LengthMaximum Swimming Depth
Great Barracuda6.56 feet328 feet
Atlantic Blue Marlin6.4 feet200 feet, but normally at surface
Tarpon8.2 feet130 feet
Goldspotted Eel3.6 feet50 feet
Bull Shark13.1 feet100 feet
Yellowfin Tuna7.84 feet820 feet
Black Snake Mackerel9.84 inches3,000-5400 feet
Cardinal Soldierfish5.9 inches72 feet


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About the Author

Kathryn Dueck is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, dogs, and geography. Kathryn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, which she earned in 2023. In addition to volunteering at an animal shelter, Kathryn has worked for several months as a trainee dog groomer. A resident of Manitoba, Canada, Kathryn loves playing with her dog, writing fiction, and hiking.

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