Discover 9 Spectacular Fish Found in Turkey

Written by Kathryn Dueck
Published: February 1, 2023
© Podolnaya Elena/
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The waters near Turkey are home to a vast array of wildlife, including several exotic or commercially important fish species. These fascinating fish range from the seahorse to the swordfish, including a fish that actually flies. Read on to discover 9 spectacular fish found in Turkey!

1. Seahorse

Slender seahorse
Hippocampus reidi, also known as a slender seahorse.

©Marcos del Mazo/

One of the most amazing fish found in Turkey is the seahorse. Currently, nearly 50 species of seahorses exist worldwide, though only three live in Turkish waters. These species are the short-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus), the long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus), and the sea pony (Hippocampus fuscus).

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All three species typically inhabit depths of up to 32.8 feet, though the short-snouted seahorse occasionally wanders deeper. Both short-snouted and long-snouted seahorses make their home in the Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, Aegean Sea, and Mediterranean Sea, as well as nearby estuaries. The sea pony in Turkey lives only in the Mediterranean Sea.

Seahorses are famous for their horse-like heads and curled tails, which they can use to hold onto objects and anchor themselves. Adult short-snouted seahorses are 2.75 to 5.9 inches in length and can be black, brown, purple, or orange in color. Fully-grown long-snouted seahorses range in length from 3.4 to 8.5 inches and are dark green or brown with white spots. Adult sea ponies grow up to 5.9 inches long and are dark to bright yellow in color.

2. Sandbar Shark

Although many shark species exist in Turkey’s coastal waters, the sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) stands out for its conservation status. The IUCN lists the species as Endangered due to its decreasing populations. It inhabits the Mediterranean Sea, including the areas along the coast of Turkey. Boncuk Bay is famous as a sandbar shark nursery.

Female sandbar sharks are typically larger and heavier than males. Males do not generally exceed 88.6 inches in length, while females top out at 97.6 inches. Some literature lists a maximum length of 118 inches, though this may be overestimated. The heaviest recorded individual weighed 260 pounds. The dorsal region is greyish-brown with a white underbelly.

3. Gilt-head Sea Bream

Gilthead bream, Dorade Royale (Sparus aurata).
The Gilt-head sea bream.

©Podolnaya Elena/

The gilt-head sea bream (Sparus aurata) is an important commercial fish in the Mediterranean Sea, including the area around Turkey. Fisheries catch them wild as well as farm them. Fascinatingly, the gilt-head sea bream is a protandrous hermaphrodite, which means it begins life with male sex organs that may transition to female organs at some point during its life. This transition typically happens in its third year.

Adult gilt-head sea breams grow to a maximum length of 27.5 inches, though they more commonly range between 12.9 to 15.7 inches. Their maximum weight is 6.8 pounds.

4. Red Mullet

The red mullet (Mullus barbatus) is one of two species of goatfish inhabiting the Mediterranean Sea, Sea of Marmara, and Black Sea near Turkey. It goes by the name “goatfish” because of the two barbels on its chin, which it uses to find food. It is a popular dish due to its mild flavour, which pairs well with various Mediterranean ingredients and spices. The second species, the striped red mullet (Mullus surmuletus), dwells in the same regions.

The red mullet grows to a maximum length of 15 inches with a more common length of 7.9 inches. The heaviest recorded individual weighed 1.5 pounds. Its name derives from its astonishing red color.

5. Black Scorpionfish

There are many species of scorpionfish within the family Scorpaenidae, including the black scorpionfish (Scorpaena porcus). This species inhabits the Mediterranean and Black Seas near Turkey and makes a tasty dish. However, it is perilous to handle in the wild as venomous spines protect its body.

The black scorpionfish reaches a maximum length of 15.9 inches with a more common length of 5.9 inches. The heaviest individual on record weighed 1.9 pounds. These fish are brownish in color with darker mottling.

6. European Sea Bass

School of European Sea Bass
A school of European sea bass.

©Adnan Buyuk/

The European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) also goes by Mediterranean sea bass and branzino. It inhabits the Mediterranean and Black Seas near Turkey, at depths between 32.8 and 328 feet. Fisheries both farm these fish and catch them wild. They make a tasty dish with a mild, slightly sweet flavor.

European sea bass grows to 40.5 inches in length, though they more commonly measure around 19.7 inches. The maximum recorded weight for this species is 26.5 pounds. These fish are silvery-grey to bluish on their dorsal region with silvery sides and white bellies.

7. Swordfish

Another spectacular fish found in Turkey is the swordfish (Xiphias gladius), a striking fish with a tapered, swordlike nose from which it derives its name. Near Turkey, this species currently inhabits the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, though it once roamed the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara before becoming commercially extinct. It might not look appealing as a culinary dish, but its flesh is perfectly edible.

Swordfish commonly grow to about 118 inches in length, though they may grow as long as 179 inches, almost 15 feet. The heaviest swordfish on record weighed 1,433 pounds. Although they typically swim between one and 1,800 feet, some individuals dive as deep as 9,440 feet. They are both fast swimmers and powerful jumpers.

8. Bluefish

The bluefish is a blue-green shade.

©John Piekos/

The bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) is a species of fish found in Turkey in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. It is the only member of its family, Pomatomidae. Its teeth are knife-like and incredibly sharp. It makes a tasty dish, though some individuals may taste fishy.

Adult bluefish grow up to 51 inches in length, though most are smaller at around 23.6 inches long. The maximum recorded weight for this species is 31.75 pounds. The dorsal region is a greyish blue-green with white sides and a white underbelly.

9. Mediterranean Flyingfish

Perhaps the most amazing fish found in Turkey is the Mediterranean flyingfish (Cheilopogon heterurus), a fish famous for its ability to fly and swim. Amazingly, though they don’t “fly” in the sense that birds do, flying fish can glide for up to 650 feet at a time after jumping out of the water at over 35 miles per hour. Instead of real wings, these fish have winglike pectoral fins. Scientists believe they take to the air to avoid danger.

Mediterranean flyingfish grow as long as 15.75 inches, though they more commonly measure around 5.9 inches in length. Though the flesh of this species is tasty, fisheries do not commercially exploit it.


In addition to these incredible fish found in Turkey, the country is home to many other fish species and a variety of nonaquatic animals. Check out this article to find out more about Turkey’s diverse wildlife.

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Gilthead bream, Dorade Royale (Sparus aurata).
Discover these beautiful fish from Turkey!
© Podolnaya Elena/

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About the Author

I am a freelance writer with experience in both fiction and nonfiction. When not putting words on a page, I enjoy reading, hiking in the great outdoors, and playing with my dog.

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