Discover 8 Spectacular Fish Found in Senegal

multi-colored Triggerfish
Vladimir Wrangel/

Written by Kathryn Dueck

Published: February 16, 2023

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The Republic of Senegal is a West African country abutting the Atlantic Ocean. Its rich cultural landscape is augmented by its breathtaking range of wildlife. In particular, the country boasts a number of fish species notable for their unique colors, shapes, and habits. Read on to discover 8 spectacular fish found in Senegal!

1. White-Banded Triggerfish

The white-banded triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus) is one of Senegal’s most spectacular and unusual fish. In fact, its rhomboidal shape, prominent lips, and unique color pattern set it apart from other reef-associated fish in the area. Its upper body is beige or greyish, fading to white around the belly. Additionally, yellowish-orange, blue, and black stripes mark its body, most notably around the mouth, eyes, and sides. This artistic coloration gave rise to its alternate name, the “Picasso triggerfish.” Though visually striking, the white-banded triggerfish grows to a maximum length of 11.8 inches. It swims at depths above 165 feet, prowling reef flats and shallow lagoons for prey. This territorial species feeds on various aquatic lifeforms, including other fish, crustaceans, and eggs.

multi-colored Triggerfish

The white-banded triggerfish has white, yellowish-orange, blue, and black stripes on its body. This artistic coloration gave rise to the nickname “Picasso triggerfish.”

2. Longbill Spearfish

One of the most visually striking marine fish in Senegal is the longbill spearfish (Tetrapturus pfluegeri), a species of marlin native to the Atlantic Ocean. This fish possesses an elongated, spear-like rostrum and a dark blue dorsal fin that stretches almost the length of its body. Its dorsal region is bluish-black, which gives way to silvery-white sides marked with brown and a silvery-white belly. The longbill spearfish grows up to 8.3 feet in length and weighs up to 127.8 pounds. It swims at depths up to 656 feet, feeding mostly on pelagic fish and squids, and it prefers offshore waters to those along the coast.

White Marlin

The longbill spearfish has an elongated, spear-like rostrum and a dark blue dorsal fin that stretches almost the length of its body.

3. Globehead Grenadier

The globehead grenadier (Cetonurus globiceps) is a bizarre deep-water fish inhabiting the Atlantic waters off the coast of Senegal. It thrives at remarkable depths, usually between 2,820 and 15,160 feet below the ocean surface. Its name references its globelike head, which quickly tapers to an extremely thin, elongated tail. Small but sharp teeth fill its jaws. In contrast to these startling features, its body is a simple brown to dark brown in color with black membranes. Despite its fierce appearance, the globehead grenadier only grows up to 1.64 feet in length. It feeds on small fish and planktonic crustaceans.

Illustration of Globehead Grenadier

An illustration of a globehead grenadier, from “Oceanic ichthyology.”

4. White-Spotted Eagle Ray

The white-spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) is a distinctive ray species inhabiting the marine and brackish water along Senegal’s coast. This fish dwells at depths at or above 262 feet, occasionally leaping out of the water when near the surface. It features pointed “wings” and a whiplike tail with a long spine near the base. However, it has no spines on its disc. Besides these features, it is easily recognizable by its white-spotted black or bluish dorsal region. The white-spotted eagle ray grows to over 16 feet in length and weighs up to 507 pounds. Its diet includes small fishes, shrimps, and cephalopods.

Spotted eagle ray

The white-spotted eagle ray is easily recognizable by its white-spotted black or bluish dorsal region.

5. Four-Banded Butterfly Fish

The four-banded butterflyfish (Chaetodon hoefleri) is Senegal’s classically beautiful reef fish. Its name derives from the four black or dark brown bars running vertically across its pale body. Bright yellow edges its body both dorsally and ventrally, including its dorsal and pectoral fins. Additionally, its snout comes to a distinctive point. The four-banded butterfly fish grows up to 10.6 inches in length. As a fully-grown adult, it is typically either solitary or occurs in pairs. However, it may be gregarious when young.

Four-Banded Butterfly Fish

The name for the four-banded butterfly fish comes from the bands that run vertically down its body.

6. Electric Catfish

One of the most startling fish found in Senegal is the electric catfish (Malapterurus electricus), a freshwater species in the Senegal River basin. Its most famous trait is its electric organ, which surrounds nearly its entire body. It uses this organ, capable of producing 300-400 volts of electricity, to both capture prey and defend against predators. The electric catfish grows up to four feet in length and weighs a maximum of 44 pounds. The larger the fish, the greater the shock it can provide! Although its electric current is unlikely to be fatal to humans, the biggest individuals may be able to stun an adult human. Interestingly, electric catfish fry are immune to their parents’ electricity.

The Electric Catfish is characterized by a long, puffy body with thick lips, small eyes, rounded snout and three pairs of barbels.

The electric catfish uses its electric organ (capable of producing 300-400 volts of electricity) to capture prey and defend against predators.

7. Spotted Snake Eel

The spotted snake eel (Ophichthus ophis) is a snakelike marine fish found in Senegal. The species is recognizable by its dark-spotted pale body and the dark band across its head. It has little to no fear of humans, typically allowing divers to approach. It spends much of its time burrowing under the ocean floor sand, often sticking its head out diagonally. The spotted snake eel grows to a maximum length of 6.89 feet. It remains at depths above 230 feet, hunting other fish and octopi.

Spotted Snake Eel

A spotted snake eel in the Red Sea.

8. Red Cornetfish

The red cornetfish (Fistularia petimba) is a reef-associated fish inhabiting Senegal’s marine and brackish waters. Both its body and its snout are extremely elongated, giving it a uniquely streamlined appearance. In addition to this, its fins occur far back along its body. It swims at depths up to 656 feet, feeding on small fishes and shrimps. The red cornetfish grows up to 6.56 feet in length but weighs up to only 10.36 pounds due to its lack of bulk. Its name derives from its color, which is reddish or brownish.

Cornetfish, Also Known as Rough Flutemough

The cornetfish is also called the rough flutemouth.

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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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