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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fish Bulletin No. 37. The California Barracuda (Sphyraena argentea). I. Life History of the California Barracuda. II. A Bibliography of Barracudas (Sphyraenidae)

  • Author(s): Walford, Lionel A
  • et al.

Although there are at least fifteen kinds of barracuda distributed in all the warm seas of the world, the California barracuda (Sphyraena argentea) is the only one which may be considered of sufficient commercial importance to constitute a distinct "fishery." If one may judge by the available statistics, the barracuda of the west coast of Mexico and Central America, those of the Atlantic coast of North America, of the tropical Atlantic, of the coasts of southern Europe, of Africa, and of the seas of Asia, are to the countries which exploit them but little more than incidental additions to the usual landings of other species. It is not surprising, therefore, in the absence of economic necessity, that studies on the biology of any of these fishes have been neglected for those on more important species. Although from Aristotle down, a fairly voluminous literature exists on the nomenclature, the habitats, the voraciousness, and the food value of the various species, practically nothing has been written about the habits or the life histories. As for the California barracuda, a number of scattered notes on the distribution is all that has added to our knowledge of its biology since Girard first named the species in 1854.

Notwithstanding the fact that within the range of California fishing activities, there are two species of barracuda, Sphyraena argentea and Sphyraena ensis, only the former has yet reached the California markets. Sphyraena ensis is known to occur from the Gulf of California to Panama Bay, but possibly because of the availability of Sphyraena argentea farther north, possibly because of the smaller size or the inferior quality of Sphyraena ensis, it has not been taken by our fishermen. Although Sphyraena argentea is distributed from Cape San Lucas, Lower California, north to Puget Sound, it is important commercially only south of Ventura County, California.

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