Fishes: Fastest Biggest and Other Interesting Marine Life Facts

Over 1200 species of fish exist in marine ecosystems within New Zealand waters including tidal estuaries, seamounts, and reefs and of these around 110 species are endemic or native to New Zealand. 50% or less are found in open sea with around 61% of fish species found in coastal rock pools. 15,000 or so marine species have been found in New Zealand waters out of an estimated total of up to 50,000 or more?

New Zealand Freshwater Fish Life


  • New Zealand has 29 identified species of native freshwater fish.

  • One fish, the Grayling, became extinct but survived through until at least 1922.

  • 10 of the remaining species are considered threatened.

  • In all likelihood new species are yet to be identified.

  • Around 20 alien species of freshwater fish have been introduced since European settlement and include; Trout, Salmon, Koi Carp, Catfish, Tench, Rudd and Perch.

New Zealand Commercial Fishery

New Zealand controls the world’s 4th largest coastal fishing zone.
This Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) produces about 1% of the world's catch.

New Zealand seafood exports in 2007 were worth around NZ$1.25 billion, making it the 4th biggest New Zealand export earner behind dairy, meat and forestry.

In 2007, 315,000 metric tonnes of seafood products left the country which at the above export earnings total equates to a NZ$396.83 return per metric tonne of fish. (please advise
Fish Art Gallery if you believe this figure is incorrect)


Approximately 130 species of fish, shellfish and crab are targeted commercially in New Zealand waters and they include;


Albacore Tuna, Anchovy, Alfonsino, Antarctic Toothfish, Arrow Squid, Barracouta, Bass, Black Cardinalfish, Black Oreo, Blue Cod, Blue Mackerel, Blue Moki, Bigeye Tuna, Black Paua, Bluenose, Blue Shark, Butterfish, Cockle, Common Warehou, Cardinal Fish, Deepwater (King) Clam, Deepwater Tuatua, Elephant Fish, Frilled Venus Shell, Freshwater Eel , Flounders(6 species) , Frostfish, Garfish, Gemfish, Green-lipped Mussel, Grey Mullet, Giant Spider Crab, Ghost Shark, Giant Stargazer, Gurnard, Hake, Hoki, Horse Mussel, Hapuku(Groper), John Dory, Jack Mackerel(3 species), Kahawai, Kina, King Crab, Kingfish, Knobbed Whelk, Large Trough Shell, Long-finned Beryx, Lookdown Dory, Leatherjacket, Long-finned Eel, Ling, Mako Shark, Moonfish, Orange Roughy, Oysters Dredge, Paddle Crab, Parore, Pacific Bluefin Tuna, Packhorse Rock Lobster, Pale Ghost Shark, Pilchard, Porae, Porbeagle Shark, Pipi, Prawn Killer, Queen Scallop, Rock Lobster(crayfish), Ringed Dosinia, Rays Bream, Red Cod, Red Crab, Rig, Ribaldo, Rough Skate, Red Snapper, Rubyfish, Silky Dosinia, Southern Blue Whiting, Scallop, Sea Cucumber, School Shark, Scampi, Short-finned Freshwater Eel, Smooth Oreo, Snapper, Spiny Dogfish, Sea Perch, Sprats, Smooth Skate, Southern Bluefin Tuna

Silver Warehou, Striped Marlin, Swordfish, Triangle Shell, Trough Shell, Tarakihi, Trevally, Trumpeter, Tuatua, White Warehou, Yellow-eyed Mullet, Yellowfin Tuna, Yellowfoot Paua


Fastest Fishes


  • Sailfish                      Istiophorus platypterus 110kph - 68mph

  • Mako Shark               Isurus oxyrinchus 96kph - 60mph

  • Marlin                       Tetrapturus sp. 80kph - 50mph

  • Wahoo                      Acanthocybium solandri 78kph - 48mph

  • Bluefin                      Tuna Thunnus thynnus 70kph - 43mph

  • Blue                          Shark Prionace glauca 69kph - 43mph

  • Swordfish                  Xiphius gladius 64kph - 40mph



Big Fishes


  • Largest of all Whale Shark    Rhinodon typus               18.00m 60ft   40,823kg 90,000 lbs

  • Largest Basking Shark         Cetorhinus maximus        13.72m 45ft   14,514kg 32,000 lbs

  • Largest White Shark            Carcharodon carcharias    06.60m 21ft      3,285kg 7,300 lbs

  • Largest Tiger Shark             Galeocerdo cuvieri           06.26m 20ft10”    939kg 2,070 lbs

  • Largest  Hammerhead          Sphyrna mokarran          05.60m 18ft 4”     843kg 1,860 lbs

  • Largest Thresher Shark        Alopias vulpinus              06.00m 19ft         499kg 1,100 lbs

  • Largest Six-gill Shark           Hexanchus griseus           04.57m 15ft        590kg 1,300 lbs



Heaviest Fish: Class: Ostyichtheys (bony fish)
Ocean Sunfish Mola mola 3.05m-10ft and 4.27m-14 ft between dorsal and anal fins.

A specimen of 2,235kg-4,928 lbs was struck and killed by a ship off Australia in 1908.


Longest Fish
The Oarfish Regalecus glesne 17m-56 ft is reported to be the longest bony fish.
It has a ribbon-like body.


Smallest Fish
Stout Infantfish Schindleria brevipinguis 8.4mm Found at the Lizard Island area Queensland.


Largest Ocean Carnivore
Sperm Whale Physeter macrocephalus 20m 65 ft 36,287kg 80,000 lbs


Largest Jellyfish
Cyanea arctica 2.3m-7 ft 6” across the bell with a tentacle of 36.58m-120 ft.


Largest Seaweed
Macrocystis pyrifera Giant Kelp 54m-177ft long is found of the California coast.


Long Living Fish

  • Orange Roughy Hoplostethus atlanticus 150 years

  • Common Eel Anguilla anguilla 88 years

  • Snapper Pagrus aratus 66 years


Largest Eyes
Atlantic giant squid Architeuthis dux perhaps up to 50cm - 20"


Deepest Fish
Abyssobrotula galatheae: A species of cuskee A 20cm long fish was found at a depth of 8,370m-27,455 ft


Largest Crustacean
Giant spider crab Macrocheira kaempferi: Individuals can measure 35cm-14” across the body, with a claw span of 2.3m-9ft.

There is a report of a crab weighing 6.35kg-14 lbs with a claw span of 3.66m-12 ft.


Most Abundant Fish
Atlantic Herring Clupea harengus: Schools up to 4 cubic-km containing an estimated 4 billion fish have been measured. (To 45cm 18".5kg)


Prehistoric Fish
Great Shark Carcharodon megalodon Lived during the middle and late Tertiary period, about 50 - 4.5 million years ago.

Studies suggest it had a maximum length of 13.7m (45 ft).


Largest Prehistoric Fish
Leedsichthys problematicus: Swam in the oceans more than 150 million years ago.
The fossil found in England was from a fish that reached 22m-72 ft long.

Disclaimer: Fish Art Gallery will accept no responsibility or claims against it for the accuracy of the information contained on this page. The information should not be used as a resource for the purposes of academic work, research, settling arguments, disputes, trivia contests or navigation. Readers using this information do so totally at their own risk. No fish were harmed in the making of this page.