Great Barracuda (species: Sphyraena barracuda) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Sphyraena barracuda
Great Barracuda

©Anne Hoggett: Sphyraena barracuda at Cod Hole, Ribbon Reef Number 10.

©Andy Lewis: A small adult Great Barracuda

©Andy Lewis: A school of Great Barracuda in the Osprey Reef lagoon, Coral Sea
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Sphyraenidae
Genus Sphyraena
Species Sphyraena barracuda



Distinguishing features

A medium to very large elongate silvery fish with large eyes, underslung jaw, and a dark tail. Usually seen singly over coral reefs or along rocky shores.


  • Up to 200 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Reef fronts and channels with good water movement and plentiful prey fishes, although smaller specimens can be seen in sheltered lagoonal and backreef habitats.

Can be found in most locations around the island.


This species feeds on reef fishes, and is a well known source of ciguatera poisoning. Individuals aggregate near areas of current flow where small fishes feed, and lie quietly in wait before making a rapiad attacking rush. Has caused injury through biting at silvery objects such as rings and watches on snorkellers and divers, and will also get very excited if fish are speared in the vicinity. These fishes grow slowly, maturing at about 6 years and living to more than 30 years.

Web resources


  • unspecified - This species is known to have caused ciguatera poisoning and should not be eaten.


  • Bray, R.A., T.H. Cribb and S.C. Barker (1993). Hemiuridae (Digenea) from marine fishes of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia, Systematic Parasitology, 25: 37-62. LIRS catalog number 484.
  • Burdon-Jones, C. and G.R.W. Denton (1981). Metals in marine organisms from the Great Barrier Reef Province. Part 1. Base line survey,Interim Progress Report, James Cook University, Townsville.. LIRS catalog number 69.
  • Porter, H.T. and P.J. Motta (2004). A comparison of strike and prey capture kinematics of three species of piscivorous fishes: Florida gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus), redfin needlefish (Strongylura notata), and great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda), Marine Biology, 145: 989-1000. LIRS catalog number 90143.
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