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There are many types of marine and fish life in the waters of Costa Rica. These fish provide incredible recreational fishing, commercial fishing, and general viewing opportunities. Also, the nature conservation effort is not only on the land, but also in regards to the ocean.

For Information regarding Fishing, (Fish types, Fish Seasons) go visit

Marine fish

Bonefish (Albulidae)

Silver in color, these fish can grow to one meter in length. Small species travel in schools while the big ones are solitary. They can be found in shallow waters, during high tide, and between tides they go to deeper waters. It is well-known among fisherman for being captured with rod and they put up a good fight.

Sand fish (Bothidae), Tongue soles (Cynoglossidae) and (Soleidae)

This fish is similar to the Flounder found in the United States.  Highly adapted for living on the bottom of the sea, they camouflage in the sand where they lay on one of their sides. Because of this, they have both eyes on one side of their body. But what is even more interesting is that they are not born in this way. The newborns have almost the same look as the other fishes, but during their development the right eye migrates to the left side of the head (in Cynoglossidae and Bothidae) or to the right side (Soleidae). Often, their mouth is also left (or right)-sided. After this transformation the fishes are ready for their adult life in the bottom of the ocean.

Jacks, scads and pompano (Carangidae)

These are very agile and fast fish that vary immensely in shape. Most of these animals lay their eggs away from the coast. The young fish can be grouped in schools or swim under floating things such as dead trunks or jellyfish.

Sharks (Carcharhinidae)

(Technically not a fish) This family contains several species of sharks, and includes the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) and the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvieri) which are the most common in the Atlantic ocean of Costa Rica.  They can grow to 1.5 meters (59 centimeters) in length.  These animals are carnivorous and feed on small fish and squid.

Snook (Centropomidae)

These fish are regularly consumed by people. They measure between 0.5 and 1.5 m (19 and 60 in) in length. They inhabit the mangroves, coasts, and river mouths, and feed on shrimps and anchors.  In the United States, they were originally dubbed "Soap Fish" because of their foul taste after cooking, if the skin wasn't removed.  Subsequently, it was discovered that if the skin is removed, the meat of a snook is some of the most delectible meat found in the sea.

Herring (Clupeidae)

Herring are typically well-known fish to the people of Costa Rica.  They consume a lot of herring both directly or indirectly (e.g. for fertilizers, oil). Most of them are small fish that live in groups that feed on plankton. They are also prey of bigger fish, birds, and marine mammals in the food chain.

Stingrays (Dasyatidae, Urolophidae)

Rays are impressive because when swimming it seems like they fly in the water. They spend a lot of time looking for food (mollusks) in the sand, and they frequently occur in shallow waters in the beach, and marshes because can tolerate salinity variations. The species in the Dasyatidae family are ovoviviparous which means that they keep the eggs in their bodies and give birth to little rays. One species of this family is the Manta Ray, which are enormous and can reach weights of 800 kilos (1764 lb). There are two families of rays that are venomous (Dasyatidae, Urolophidae), and two that are not (Molubidae and Mylobatidae).  Those who are, have a spine in the tail. Be careful when entering into the water, especially when you are in a beach when the sand is not compact under wave-breaking line.  Shuffling your feet is a good technique to give them a heads-up that you are there. If you ever get stung, put the affected part (usually the feet) in warm water. Sometimes the pain is tolerable after the warm water, but if not, you should visit any emergency room.

Marine Catfish (Ariidae)

These are fish with wide heads and eyes that are widely spaced. They feed mainly on detritus or small invertebrates such as shrimp, and occur mainly in marshes, mangroves, and river mouths.  These fish have a strategy to protect the eggs and the newborns. After the female lays the eggs and the male fertilizes them, they both contribute to enter the eggs into the male’s mouth. The male remains holding the eggs for six weeks without feeding.  He keeps the eggs for a period four weeks and holds the newborns during the first two weeks after birth inside his mouth.

Toadfish (Bratrachoididae)

These bottom dwellers are known for their slow movements.  Toadfish have large, wide mouths and can produce sounds!  Yes…a fish that makes sounds. They can survive out of the water for an uncoventionally long time, and can live in poorly oxygenated water. They are common in rocky areas and are carnivorous.

Sources:  James A. Perry II, Shari D. Perry . 1974. Los peces comunes de la Costa Atlántica de Costa Rica. Costa Rica: Ciudad Universitaria Rodrigo Facio.

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