Forage Fish
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Closeup photo of Pacific Saury with descriptions of identifying anatomy.

Forage Fish Identification Guide

Pacific Saury
Cololabis saira

Infrequently caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters. 

Description: The body of the Pacific Saury is elongate with dark green to blue on the dorsal side and silvery below.  There are small bright blue blotches distributed randomly along the sides.  They have a pointed snout and a series of small finlets along the top and bottom of the body between the dorsal and anal fins and the base of the tail.  The tail is small and forked.

Maximum Size: At least 44 cm (17 in) in length and 180 g (0.4 lbs) in weight. 

Maximum Age:  About 4-6 years old.

Range/Habitat: Pacific Saury range in the North Pacific, from Japan eastward to the Gulf of Alaska and southward to Mexico.   Off North American, they are found mostly from Vancouver Island southward.  They are found schooling in depths that range from the surface to 230 m (755 ft).  Pacific Saury are known to glide above the surface of the water to avoid predators, similar to their cousin the flying fish.  This species is highly migratory, moving northward in the summer to feed and then southward in the winter to spawn off Baja California.  Pacific Saury schools may be massive, up to at least 32 km (20 m) long and several miles wide.  Along the Pacific coast saury schools may also include smelts and Pacific Herring.   Pacific Saury feed primarily on zooplankton (e.g., euphausiids, amphipods, and copepods) and fish.  This species is prey to at least 46 species of fish, birds, marine mammals and invertebrates.

Sources

  • Love, M.S., 2011. Certainly More Than You Want to Know About The Fishes of The Pacific Coast: A Postmodern Experience. Really Big Press, Santa Barbara, California, 650 p.
  • Pacific Saury Wiki
  • FishBase.Org

Photo: Brad Speidel