Beautiful Fish: Sargassum Fish


Sargassum Fish, Mousefish

Color— Creamy white, the fins as well as the head and body mottled with pale and dark brown. The fleshy tags are yellowish.

General range— Tropical and subtropical, living at the surface among floating seaweed; sometimes drifting far northward with the Gulf Stream.

Occurrence in the Gulf of Maine— A specimen about 4¾ inches (12 cm.) long, that was picked up in a purse seine near the surface over the west central part of Georges Bank, by the Schooner OLD GLORY on September 15, 1930, and a second of 2¼ inches, taken off the southeast slope of Georges Bank, by the sword fisherman LEONORA C, on June 15, 1937, are the only records of this fish in the Gulf of Maine; the most northerly records, in fact, for it for continental waters in this side of the Atlantic. But it has been picked up from time to time near Woods Hole. Living, as they usually do, among floating gulf weed (Sargassum), it is not astonishing that sargassum fish should drift in over the offshore banks, occasionally.

From Fishes of the Gulf of Maine by Bigelow and Schroeder (1953) online courtesy of MBL/WHOI

                  Photo – Hauling the seine, Schooner Old Glory

It was the Gloucester Schooner Old Glory that seined up the first reported tiny sargassum fish specimen. (Howard Liberman photo, 1942, aboard Old Glory, courtesy of the Library of Congress Online Catalog)

Al Bezanson