Environment

Native Fish Of Costa Rica

Costa Rica's fish make it a popular destination for marine biologists, ecotourists, and sport anglers alike.

Costa Rica is a country in Central America. To the east it is bordered by the Caribbean Sea, and to the West the Pacific Ocean. The country also borders two countries, Panama and Nicaragua. Costa Rica's fish make it a popular destination for marine biologists, eco-tourists, and sport anglers alike. In addition to marine fish such as the Marlin which sport anglers favor, Costa Rica is also rich in native freshwater fish species.

Black Drum (Pogonias Cromis)

The Black Drum (Pogonias Cromis) is a fish that lives in salt water, and they grow in a size range between 5 pounds and 30 pounds, while some can be as heavy as 90 pounds. In color they are either black or grey, and young Black Drum are gray with distinctive black stripes over the grey. Their teeth are rounded, with strong jaws for crushing shellfish and crabs. They also feed on oysters and mussels. Their scales are large. Black Drum tend to live in or near brackish waters. They are common in the South Caribbean Coast and also from the Orinoco Delta to Argentina. They have a lifespan of up to 35 years. Young black drum feed on plankton, and when they have grown to 20 centimeters they start eating worms and other small fish. The adult black drums eat crabs and mollusks, shrimps, and aquatic vegetation.

Rooster Fish (Nemastitius Pectoralis)

The Rooster Fish (Nemastitius Pectoralis) can be found in the warmer waters of the East Pacific from Baja California to Peru. They range from a few pounds to 80 pounds. The Rooster Fish has an unusual ear arrangement, with its swim bladder penetrating its brain through its large foramina to connect with its inner ear. It uses its swim bladder to amplify sounds. A predator, the Rooster Fish eats small fish and juvenile fish. In Costa Rica, the Rooster Fish are good for sport fishing all year, but the best time is when the water is clearer. They are popular with sport fishermen. They are also considered good for eating, but popular with sport fishermen often release them after catching them. The fish inhabit sandy shores and nearshore reefs. Roosterfish feeding habits are hardly known, but it is thought to eat small fish and crabs.

Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus Chrysurus)

The Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus Chrysurus) are a species native to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Their range is from the South of Florida to the West Indies and Brazil. They live mostly in coral reefs, and at depths from near the surface to 590 feet. The Yellowtail Snapper’s average weight is 3 pounds, and can be as long as 34 inches. They eat small fish and invertebrates. Their flaky meat is well-loved, and many people consider them the best of the snapper family.

Jack Crevalle (Caranx Hippos)

The Jack Crevalle (Caranx Hippos) is found in the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia, Canada all the way south to Uruguay. Their unique difference from other jackfish is the dark spot on their gill cover and steeply convex forehead. In weight, they range from 3 pounds to 5 pounds, and are as long as 4 feet. They travel in schools, and can attack another school of fish in a feeding frenzy visible from great distances. They feed mainly on small fish.

Permit (Trachinotus Falcatus)

The Permit (Trachinotus Falcatus) is a game fish found in the Western Atlantic Ocean. In color they appear grayish, with an iridescent blue on the top. Their unique physical features are their elongated dorsal fins and anal fin. Their average weight is 25 pounds, but they can be as big as 40 pounds. They feed on shrimp, small fish, small clams, and bottom dwelling crabs.

Threats to Fish in Costa Rica

The greatest threat to the native fish of Costa Rica is illegal fishing. The name Costa Rica means “Rich Coast”. Costa Rica’s waters are rich in marine life, which is today threatened by illegal fishing. Conservation efforts include plans to build a radar system that can help pinpoint pirate vessels up to 70 miles out in the sea.

Native Fish of Costa RicaScientific Name
Black Drum
Pogonias cromis
Roosterfish
Nematistius pectoralis
Yellowtail Snapper
Ocyurus chrysurus
Crevalle Jack
Caranx hippos
Ladyfish
Elops saurus
Permit
Trachinotus falcatus
Mahi-Mahi Dolphinfish
Coryphaena hippurus
Sheepshead
Archosargus probatocephalus
Wahoo
Acanthocybium solandri
Greater Amberjack
Seriola dumerili

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