Fish & Sharks

Fish are extremely diverse animals living in a variety of habitats ranging from coral reefs and kelp forests to rivers, streams, and the open ocean. Most fish can be categorized into one of two primary groups: bony fish (Osteichthyes) and cartilaginous fish (Chondrichthyes). The skeleton of bony fish is made of bones, while that of cartilaginous fish is made of cartilage. Cartilaginous fish include sharks, skates, and rays.

Most fish under NOAA Fisheries’ jurisdiction are marine fish that spend their entire life in salt water. Others are anadromous—like some species of salmon and sturgeon—which begin their lives in freshwater, migrate to the ocean to grow into adults, and then return to freshwater to spawn.

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the sustainable management of many species of fish under the Magnuson-Stevens Act that are targeted for human consumption and other uses like fertilizer. Some of these fish include Pacific bluefin tuna, Alaska pollock, and summer flounder. We are also responsible for protecting fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act like Atlantic sturgeon and oceanic whitetip shark.


Species News

Scientist holding up gills from a shark The gill lamellae of a Blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) on one gill arch. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Jennifer Bigman
Chinook salmon in rocky, shallow water A threatened Chinook salmon in the Middle Fork of the Santiam River. Photo: Brandon Overstreet/U.S. Geological Survey

Multimedia

Children fishing on a dock in Charleston, South Carolina Children fishing on a dock in Charleston, South Carolina. Credit: Jae Schmitz
Man aboard a boat casting a fishing line Central Valley salmon fisherman and Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsmen’s Association Vice President, Scott Hambelton, casts from his boat on the American River. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

Research

Peer-Reviewed Research

The Role of Small Pelagic Fish in Diverse Ecosystems: Knowledge Gleaned From Food-Web Models

Food-web models represent a synthesis of knowledge of these dependencies and are a platform for…

Fishery-Independent Indices of Abundance in the Southeast Region

The Southeast Abundance of Fish and Shrimp (SEAFiSh) data visualizer provides access to relative abundance indices from data collected during fishery-independent surveys conducted in the southeastern U.S. Atlantic (South Atlantic) and Gulf of Mexico…

Understanding Fisheries Management in the United States

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for managing marine fisheries within the U.S. exclusive economic zone. Learn more about the sustainable management of our marine fisheries.

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Species

160 species match your filter criteria.