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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock.com
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