Saltwater Fish Identification Guide

Here's a comprehensive guide to identifying various saltwater fish species:


  • Olive green to grey body with lighter mottling.
  • Two fins on back.
  • Skin flap between nostrils.
  • Small teeth.

Dogfish Shark

  • Dark brown upper body with white belly.
  • White spots sometimes on upper body.
  • Single prominent spines in front of each dorsal fin.
  • Lacks an anal fin.


  • White on one side; brown-gray on the other.
  • Large mouth and eyes on the right side of the body.
  • Three points on the tail.

Kelp Greenling (Female)

  • Size: up to 21".
  • Color: small reddish-brown to golden spots on a gray to brown body.
  • Look for: yellowish-orange fins.

Kelp Greenling (Male)

  • Size: up to 21".
  • Color: gray to brownish-olive, with irregular blue spots on the front half of their bodies.
  • Look for: eyelike spot at the end of the soft dorsal fin, just in front of the tail.


  • Dark brown, grey, or green body with mottling on sides.
  • Single long fin on back with only one notch.
  • Large mouth with large teeth.
  • Can reach 5' in length.

Pacific Cod

  • Brown to grey body with lighter mottling.
  • Three fins on back and a large “whisker” under lower jaw.
  • Also called true cod and grey cod.

Pacific Hake

  • Dark or silver grey body becoming silvery below.
  • Two fins on back, the second being deeply notched.
  • Black inside mouth.
  • Large mouth with sharp teeth.
  • Also called whiting.

Walleye Pollock

  • Brown body with mottling, usually with several stripes along the body.
  • Three fins on back.
  • The “whisker” under lower jaw is absent or very small.
  • Large eye with small pupil.
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