The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic
MARINE FISH Falkland Islands


  • rock-eel

Rock eel Austrolycus depressiceps

Small with a dark smooth skin, a very eel-like fish with a single back fin. It is often found hiding beneath rocks and at low tide on rocky beaches. An important food source for Black-crowned Night Herons.

  • Dogfish

Dogfish Harpagifer bispinis

A small fish around 6 to 8cm long with a large head and two distinct horns or spines. Found in close shore, in shallow waters beneath kelp and rocks. Black-crowned Night Herons very likely take these and Patagonian foxes have been observed taking them. (Strange).

  • trout

Brown Trout Salmo trutta

Local names: Rainbow trout, sea trout
The Brown Trout or ‘Rainbow’ Trout was introduced into the Falklands where it has flourished probably at the expense of the smaller local ‘zebra’ trout, having spread naturally through many of the island’s rivers and waterways. It is absent from most of the Lafonia section of East Falklands nor is it in the southern section of West Falklands waterways that run into Port Philomel. On the West Chartres River and Warrah River are both excellent places to catch brown/ sea trout as is the San Carlos River and Murrell River on the East. The trout fishing season runs from 1st September to the 30th April.


  • mullet1

'Mullet' Eleginops maclovinus

Although essentially a marine fish mullet can survive and adapt to freshwater if trapped. This has occurred in Loch head Pond on East Falklands. Mullet are Browny- grey with a lighter belly. They can grow to around 60 cm (24inches). Mullet start life as males until they grow 40 cm long. By the time they are 50cm long they will have turned into females. (Brickle el al. 2003b.) They favour muddy creeks and estuaries but are common all around Falkland Islands coasts and are easily caught on lines baited with a piece of meat or a spinner. Mullet have white flesh and are good eating, traditionally the main fish to supplement islander's diet. Seals also prey on them.


  • smelt2

'Smelt' Odontesthess smittii & O. nigricans

Both these species of smelt are found in the Falklands. They occasionally enter freshwater but actually are marine fishes. Smelt can often be caught in estuaries and creeks. They are sweet tasting bright silvery little fish, olive- gold on their backs with a distinct black line underlined by a bright white stripe running along their sides. Falklands O. smittii might grow to over 450 mm and O. nigricans to about 240 mm. On neighboring Argentina and Chile these fish are commercially important. In the Falklands they are considered a treat if they happen to be caught.


  • toothfish

Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides

Local name: Chilean sea bass (not actually a sea bass but a Southern Rock Cod, family Nototheniidae)
This finfish occurs at depths between 45m (148 ft) and 3850m (12631 ft) of the cold, temperate South Atlantic and Southern oceans, inhabiting seamounts and continental shelves around sub- Antarctic islands. This is a deep- sea  demersal  fish (living near the sea bed), is found in shallower water when young but moving to deep water as it gets older. At 10- 12 years and approaching 1 m long, the fish becomes a mature breeding adult. This species is thought to live up to 50 years and can reach a length of up to 2.3m (7.5 ft), with large adults weighing over  100 kg, although the average weight of a caught Patagonian toothfish is 6-10kg. Toothfish feed mainly on squid, fish and prawns and are themselves preyed upon by sperm whales, Southern elephant seals and colossal squid. There is a huge commercial market for this fish. In the USA it is known as Chilean sea bass, in Chile and Japan it is mero and in Argentina and Uruguay it is merluza negra. The meat is good to eat, with firm white flesh, is nutritious, and high in Omega-3 oils. Due to its slow maturity and commercial value, the Chilean sea bass is vulnerable and often subject to illegal fishing. The Falklands allows a quota 1200 metric tonnes of this fish to be harvested per year.


Sources include:  Wildlife of the Falkland Islands amd South Georgia - Ian J Strange , Falkland Islands Freshwater Fishes- R. M. McDowall, R.M. Allibone & W. L. Chadderton

Photographic credits: Robert Maddocks

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