Category America – north – Atlantic coast – temperate



The snappers are a large and diverse group of robustbodied, carnivorous fishes. Most species possess relatively large mouths with stout canine teeth and bodies covered with relatively large, coarse scales. They are frequently brightly coloured. They are demersal (spending most time swimming close to the sea bed) in some cases down to 450m and are found in the tropical and sub topical waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.

There are over one hundred individual species globally, but within the North America – Atlantic Coast – temperate eco-region there are only a limited number of species that you are likely to see at diving depth, and these will tend to be in the warmer waters of the region.

The dog snapper (Lutjanus jocu) is the largest member of the f...

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Tuna and mackerels


The Scombridae family of tuna and mackerel are fast-swimming, wide-ranging pelagic fishes. They have a number of special adaptations for this lifestyle, including a streamlined body form and recessible dorsal and anal fins. Some species are partly endothermic, maintaining a higher body temperature in the swimming muscles. Scombrids often swim in schools and prey on other fishes. Many species are very important as sport fishes and in commercial harvest.

Albacore (Thunnus alalunga) can be distinguished from other tunas by a long pectoral (breast) fin that may reach to a point beyond the anal fin. Albacore are devoid of any stripes or spots on lower flanks and belly...

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The sciaenids are a large family of primarily bottom associated, carnivorous fishes distributed throughout the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, in tropical and temperate inshore waters. The majority occur on open sand and mud bottoms and some are found only in brackish waters. The exact number of species is uncertain, but there are probably about 270.

Drums are also commonly called croakers, and for good reason. They have modified muscular swim bladders that they use to produce a drumming or croaking sound when they are excited. Drums are luminescent and appear pink when first removed from the water. A drum’s tail is slightly pointed, and it has faint stripes across its back and small chin barbels...

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Identifying sharks in the wild is a great challenge! While scientists can spend weeks examining every detail of a species, divers may encounter a shark for only a few seconds or minutes. Many species look alike and one individual may not be identical to the next. There are, however, relatively few species in any one specific dive site and with some preparation and a little practice it is possible for all of us to recognise the more common and distinctive species. The key to successful shark identification underwater is a process of elimination, based on a mental checklist of the main features to look for in every animal encountered. One feature alone is rarely enough for a positive identification, so gather as much information as you can before drawing firm conclusions.

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The family Gadidae of cods and haddocks is found primarily in the circumpolar and temperate seas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, principally in the northern hemisphere. A commercially important fish, cods are normally found swimming in schools at moderate to deep depths and feed on a variety of invertebrates and other fishes. Some species are noted for their habit of long-distance migration.

One of the most common in the region is the Atlantic cod (gadus morhua), to be found in the benthopelagic zone and in brackish waters, at depths of 1 – 600m. This species is widely distributed in a variety of habitats from the shoreline to well down the continental shelf. It is omnivorous and feeds at either dawn or dusk.

Another common member of the family is the hadd...

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