A check list of the most likely marine fish species to be found in Guernsey waters

November 4th, 2010 by Richard Lord

This is a list of marine fish species that have been or could be found in Guernsey marine waters because of their occurrence in the English Channel.

Lamprey                            family petromyzonidae

Sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus (not uncommon, increasing)

A locally caught sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus, at Guernsey Aquarium (©RLLord)

Six-gill shark                   family hexanchidae

Six-gilled shark, Hexanchus griseus (deepwater, strays into Channel)

Thresher shark               family alopiidae

Thresher shark, Alopias vulpinus (not uncommon in the Channel)

Big-eyed thresher, Alopias superciliosus (strays into Channel)

Basking shark                 family cetorhinidae

Basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus (primarily May to July visitor)

Mackerel shark              family lamnidae

Porbeagle shark, Lamna nasus (all year)

Short-finned mako, Isurus oxyrinchus (mid-Channel)

Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias (no confirmed records from British waters)

Catshark                           family scyliorhinidae

Lesser spotted dogfish,  Scyliorhinus canicula (abundant)

Greater spotted dogfish, Scyliorhinus stellaris (a.k.a bull huss)

Smoothhound                family triakidae

Tope,  Galeorhinus galeus (common)

Smoothhound, Mustelus mustelus (common)

Starry smoothhound, Mustelus asterias (abundant)

Requiem shark              family carcharinidae

Blue shark, Prionace glauca (summer visitor)

A blue shark, Prionace glauca, landed in Guernsey waters (©RLLord)

Dogfish                             family squalidae

Spurdog (spiny dogfish), Squalus acanthias (Once abundant, now rare)

Angel shark                     family squatinidae

Angel shark, Squatina squatina (locally extinct)

Electric ray                      family torpedinidae

Marbled electric ray, Torpedo marmorata (common)

Electric ray, Torpedo nobiliana (no confirmed records known)

Ray & skate                      family rajiidae

Cuckoo ray, Raja naevus

Spotted ray, Raja montagui

Blonde ray,  Raja brachyura (most common Guernsey ray)

Thornback ray, Raja clavata (more common in Jersey waters)

Small-eyed ray, Raja microocellata

Undulate ray, Raja undulata

Common skate, Raja batis (dravel, locally extinct ?)

Stingray                            family dasyatidae

Common stingray, Dasyatis pastinacea (not uncommon)

Eagle ray                          family myliobatidae

Common eagle ray, Myliobatis aquila (one specimen received)


Sturgeon                          family acipenseridae

Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser sturio (locally extinct)

Freshwater eel              family anguillidae

European eel, Anguilla anguilla (arrives from the Sargasso Sea)

Moray eel                        family muraenidae

Mediterranean moray, Muraena helena (rare, October 1996)

Conger eel                        family congridae

Conger eel,Conger conger (abundant, commercial fishery)

Herring                             family clupeidae

Atlantic herring, Clupea harengus (abundant)

Sprat, Sprattus sprattus

Pilchard, Sardina pilchardus (common in some years)

Allis shad, Alosa alosa (occasional)

Twaite shad, Alosa fallax (occasional)

A twaite shad, Alosa fallax, caught at the entrance to St Peter Port harbour, Guernsey on 15 September 2008 (©RLLord)

Anchovy                            family engraulidae

Anchovy, Engraulis encrasicholus (abundant, not fished locally)

Salmon & trout              family salmonidae

Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar (occasional)

Sea trout, Salmo trutta (occasional)

Coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch (escaped from farm, no longer caught)

Codfish                             family gadidae

Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua (commercial fishery)

Haddock, Melanogrammus aeglefinus (northern species, occasional)

Pollack, Pollachius pollachius (abundant)

Saithe or coley, Pollachius virens (northern species, occasional)

Ling, Molva molva (abundant)

Whiting, Merlangius merlangus (not uncommon)

Blue whiting, Micromesistius poutassou (northern species, rare)

Pout, Trisopterus luscus (abundant)

Poor cod, Trisopterus minutus (small, abundant)

Tadpole fish, Raniceps raninus (occasional, QE II marina)

Shore rockling, Gaidropsarus mediterraneus (seasonally common on shore)

Three-bearded rockling, Gaidropsarus vulgaris (common)

Four-bearded rockling, Echelyopus cimbrius (rare)

Five-bearded rockling, Ciliata mustela (seasonal common on shore)

Hake                                  family merlucciidae

European hake, Merluccius merluccius (northern species, rare)

Anglerfish                       lophiidae

Monkfish, Lophius piscatorius (occasional)

Needlefish                       family belonidae

Garfish (needlenose), Belone belone (abundant)

Saury                                 family scomberesocidae

Skipper, Scomberesox saurus (occasionally in summer)

Silverside                         family Atherinidae

Sandsmelt (rosalee),  Atherina presbyter (abundant)

Dory                                   family Zeidae

John dory,  Zeus faber (common in summer)

Buckler dory (sail-finned),  Zeus conchifer (rare English Channel migrant)

Boarfish                            family caproidae

Boarfish, Capros aper

Pipefish & seahorse      syngnathidae

Short-snouted seahorse, Hippocampus hippocampus (occasional)

Greater pipefish, Syngnathus acus   (common in marinas in summer)

Deep-snouted pipefish, Syngnathus typhle (Grand Havre bay)

Worm pipefish, Nerophis lumbriciformis (common inter-tidally)

Snake pipefish, Entelurus aequoreus (increasingly common, summer)

Stickleback                       family gasterosteidae

Fifteen-spined stickleback, Spinachia spinachia (common on shore & in marinas)

Scorpionfish                    family scorpaenidae

Bluemouth, Helicolenus dactylpterus (northern species, rare)

Gurnard                            family triglidae

Grey gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus (occasional)

Red gurnard, Aspitrigla cuculus (commonest local gurnard)

red gurnard, Aspitrigla cuculus (©RLLord)

Tub gurnard, Trigla lucerna (largest gurnard)

Streaked gurnard, Trigloporus lastoviza (not uncommon)

Sculpin / bullhead         family cottidae

Short-spined seascorpion, Myoxocephalus scorpius (rare locally ?)

Long-spined seascorpion, Taurulus bubalis (abundant)

Poacher                             family agonidae

Pogge, Agonus cataphractus (occasional)

Lumpfish                          family cyclopteridae

Lumpsucker, Cyclopterus lumpus (common)

Bass                                    family moronidae

Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax (common)

Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, with a total length of 445 mm caught on 24 Januar 2005 (©RLLord)

Spotted bass, Dicentrarchus punctatus (southern species)

Groupers                          family serranidae

Comber, Serranus cabrilla (rare migrant)

Dusky perch, Epinephelus guaza (rare migrant, French coast)

Wreckfish / stone bass, Polyprion americanum (rare migrant into Channel)

Tripletails                        family lobotidae

Tripletail, Lobotes surinamensis (Bristol Channel 2007)

Sharksuckers                 family Echeneidae

Sharksucker, Echeneis naucrates (one record for Channel)

Common remora, Remora remora (?)

Jack                                   family carangidae

Atlantic horse mackerel, Trachurus trachurus (abundant)

Blue runner, Caranx crysos (occasional migrant into Channel)

Crevalle jack, Caranx hippos (occasional migrant into Channel)

Pilot fish, Naucrates ductor (occasional migrant)

Greater amberjack, Seriola dumerili (occasional migrant)

Guinean amberjack, Seriola carpenteri (occasional migrant)

Lesser amberjack, Seriola fasciata (not recorded but possible)

Almaco jack, Seriola rivoliana (occasional migrant, ~ 14 in 2007)

An almaco jack, Seriola rivoliana, captured on the south-west Casquets bank on 7 December 2004 (©RLLord)

Derbio, Trachinotus ovatus (occasional migrant)

Vadigo, Campogramma glaycos (occasional migrant)

Pomfret                            family bramidae

Ray’s bream, Brama brama (Jersey 2007, common in North Sea)

Driftfish                           centrolophidae

Blackfish, Centrolophus niger (rare migrant into Channel)

Cornish blackfish, Centrolophus medusophagus (off Lihou Island on 19 June 2010)

Barrelfish, Hyperoglyphus perciformis (19TH Century & 1953)

Butterfish                        family stromateidae

American butterfish, Peprilus triacanthus (English Channel 2007)

Seabream                        family sparidae

Annular gilthead, Diplodus annularis (rare migrant)

White seabream, Diplodus sargus (Jersey 2000, Guernsey 2007)

Two-banded seabream, Diplodus vulgaris (off L’Ancresse bay on 29 January 2009)

Couch’s seabream, Pagrus pagrus (occasional, increasing trend)

Common dentex, Dentex dentex (rare migrant)

Gilthead seabream, Sparus auratus (occasional)

Red seabream, Pagellus bogaraveo (common prior to 1984, returning)

Spanish seabream, Pagellus acarne (rare migrant)

Common Pandora, Pagellus erythrinus (rare migrant)

Black seabream, Spondyliosoma cantharus (most abundant locally)

Salema,  Sarpa salpa (rare migrant)

Bogue, Boops boops (occasional, L’Ancresse bay)

Drum & croaker           family scaenidae

Meagre, Argyrosomus regius (historical catch locally)

Brown meagre, Sciaena umbra ?

Red mullet                      family mullidae

Striped red mullet, Mullus surmuletus (common, commercial fishery)

Red mullet, Mullus barbatus (reported for area)

Grey mullet                    family mugilidae

Thick-lipped grey mullet, Chelon labrosus (abundant)

Thin-lipped grey mullet, Liza ramada (not uncommon)

Golden grey mullet, Liza aurata (abundant)

Flat-headed grey mullet, Mugil cephalus (not yet reported)

Wrasse                             family labridae

Cuckoo wrasse, Labrus mixtus (not uncommon)

Ballan wrasse, Labrus bergylta (abundant)

Rock cock, Centrolabrus exoletus (common)

Goldsinny, Ctenolabrus rupestris (common)

Corkwing wrasse, Crenilabrus melops (common)

Baillon’s wrasse, Crenilabrus bailloni (not uncommon)

Scale-rayed wrasse, Acantholabrus palloni ?

Weeverfish                     family trachinidae

Lesser weever,Echiichthys vipera common in beaches during summer)

Greater weever, Trachinus draco (not uncommon)

Triplefin blenny           family tripterygiidae

Delais triplefin, Tripterygion delaisi (common in marinas & seashore)

Blenny                              family blenniidae

Montagu’s blenny, Coryphoblennius galerita (common on shore)

Tompot blenny, Parablennius gattorugine (common on shore)

Shanny, Lipophrys pholis (upper-shore blenny)

Yarrells’ blenny, Chirolophis ascanii (associated with kellicks)

A Yarrell blenny, Chirolophis ascanii, that was brought up in a Clive Brown crab pot off Guernsey's south coast (©RLLord)

Gunnel                             family pholidae

Butterfish, Pholis gunnellus (common on shore)

Sandeel                            family ammodytidae

Lesser sandeel, Ammodytes tobianus

Greater sandeel, Hyperoplus lanceolatus (abundant)

Corbin’s sandeel, Hyperoplus immaculatus (abundant)

Smooth sandeel (red), Gymnammodytes semisquamatus (abundant)

Goby                                  family gobiidae

Black goby, Gobius niger

Rock goby, Gobius paganellus (abundant, declining?)

Giant goby, Gobius cobitis (common)

Sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus (abundant)

Common goby, Pomatoschistus microps (abundant)

Painted goby, Pomatoschistus pictus (no confirmed records)

Two-spotted goby, Gobiusculus flavescens (abundant, marinas)

Dragonet                         family callionymidae

Common dragonet, Callionymus lyra (abundant)

Reticulated dragonet, Callionymus reticulatus

Clingfish                          family gobiesocidae

Cornish sucker, Lepadogaster lepadogaster purpurea (abundant)

Connemara sucker, Lepadogaster candollei (rare sightings on shore)

Small-headed sucker, Apletodon dentatus (abundant)

Two-spotted sucker, Diplecogaster bimaculatus (abundant)

Tuna & mackerel          family scombridae

Atlantic mackerel, Scomber scombrus (abundant, commercial)

Chub/ Spanish mackerel, Scomber colias (occasional migrant)

Frigate mackerel, Auxis rochei (occasional migrant)

Bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus (occasional via migration)

Bonito, Sarda sarda (occasional)

Skipjack tuna, katsuwonus pelamis (Jersey 1956, Polperro 2003)

Luvar                                family luvaridae

Louvar, Luvarus imperialis (St. Martin’s point in 1902)

Swordfish                       family xiphiidae

Swordfish, Xiphias gladius (occasional)

Swordfish, Xiphias gladius (©RLLord)

left-eyed flatfish          scophthalmidae

Turbot, Psetta maxima (common, commercial fishery)

Brill, Scomphthalmus rhombus (common, commercial fishery)

Left-eyed flounder      family bothidae

Megrim, Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis (common, English Channel)

Eckstrom’s topknot, Phrynorhombus regius (by-catch, occasional)

Topknot, Zeugopterus punctatus (common sub-tidally)

A topknot, Zeugopterus punctatus (©RLLord)

Scaldfish, Arnoglossus laterna (by-catch)

Right-eyed flatfish      family pleuronectidae

Plaice, Pleuronectes platessa (commercial species declining)

Dab, Limanda limanda (commercial species)

Flounder, Platichthys flesus (occasional, declining)

Lemon sole, Microstomus kitt (not uncommon)

Witch flounder, Glyptocephalus cynoglossus (north species)

Sole                                   family soleidae

Dover sole, Solea solea (commercial species, common)

Sand sole, Solea lascaris (commercial species, common

Solenette, Buglossidium luteum

Thick-backed sole, Microchirus variegatus (trawlers’ by-catch)

Triggerfish                     family balistidae

Grey triggerfish, Balistes capriscus (common in late summer)

Pufferfish                       family tetradontidae

Pufferfish, Lagocephalus lagocephalus (rare in English Channel)

Sunfish                            molidae

Ocean sunfish, Mola mola (common in summer months)

Truncated sunfish, Ranzania laevis (rare in English Channel)


Descriptive terms used to describe the abundance or scarcity of species in decreasing abundance.



Not uncommon



My use of these terms is a best guess and needs constant revision.  My opinion depends on my experience based on the reports I have seen and the species I have recorded.  Another person may describe the abundance or scarcity of a species differently.  Species also vary in abundance with time.

  1. No Comments

Have your say