Strongylura marina

Common Name

Atlantic Needlefish

Year Described

Walbaum, 1792


Dorsal Fin: 14-17
Anal Fin: 16-20
Pectoral Fin: 10-12
Pelvic Fin: 6
Vertebrae: 69-77

Very elongate and rounded in cross-section. Jaws long and thin. Maxilla exposed when jaw is closed. Dorsal and anal fins with raised anterior lobes. Caudal fin with a slightly enlarged lower lobe. Caudal peduncle with no keel. Scales tiny (213-304 in predorsal series). Females with one gonad; males with one gonad.


Bright silvery with a greenish to olive back. Dorsal and caudal fins with a faint dusky pigment. Other fins transparent.


Maximum size to 64cm SL. Common to 50 cm SL.


A coastal species found in estuaries, lagoons, mangroves, and other shallow habitats. Found in open water near the surface. Frequently enters areas of low salinity.


Continental waters from New England to southern Brazil. Not found around the Caribbean islands.


Banford, H.M., E. Bermingham & B.B. Collette. 2004. Molecular phylogenetics and biogeography of transisthmian and amphi-Atlantic needlefishes (Belonidae: Strongylura and Tylosurus): perspectives on New World marine speciation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution v. 31: 833-851.

Collette, B.B. 2002. Belonidae (pp 1104-1113). In: Carpenter. 2002. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vol. 2: Bony fishes part 1 (Acipenseridae-Grammatidae). FAO Species Identification Guides for Fisheries Purposes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5.

Lovejoy, N.R. & B.B. Collette. 2001. Phylogenetic relationships of New World needlefishes (Teleostei: Belonidae) and the biogeography of transitions between marine and freshwater habitats. Copeia 2001 (no. 2): 324-338.

Other Notes

Banford et al. (2004) indicate that the southwestern Atlantic population is divergent from the northern Atlantic population and may be an undescribed species.