Samson Fish,<i> Seriola hippos</i> Click to enlarge image
A Samson Fish at a depth of 6m, Shelly Beach, Sydney, New South Wales, January 2008. Image: Jonathan Regan
© Jonathan Regan

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to about 1.75 m in length.


Samsonfish vary considerably in body shape and colouration with growth. The species occurs in Australian and New Zealand waters.


The Samsonfish is an elongate compressed fish with a forked caudal fin. The dorsal and anal fins are elevated anteriorly. The pectoral fins are small.

The species varies considerably in body shape and colouration with growth. Juveniles have blunt heads and broad vertical bars on the body. Adults are usually silvery with a brownish to bronze sheen on the back. There is sometimes a yellow stripe on the side of the body. After capture the fish often takes on a barred pattern and becomes darker brown above after death.

Four species of Seriola occur in Australian waters. In addition to the Samsonfish, Seriola hippos, there are the Amberjack, Seriola dumerili, Yellowtail Kingfish, Seriola lalandi and the Highfin Amberjack, Seriola rivoliana.

The Amberjack has a purplish-brown back and caudal fin. The Yellowtail Kingfish has a blue to bluish-green back and a yellow caudal fin, It has a broad yellow, midlateral stripe. The Highfin Amberjack is a stockier fish with a high leading lobe to the second dorsal fin. Adults have an obvious line through the eye.


It is a pelagic, schooling species that occurs in coastal and inshore waters often near rocky reefs.


The Samsonfish occurs in Australian and New Zealand waters. In Australia it is known from southern Queensland to southern New South Wales and the Yorke Peninsula South Australia to the central coast of Western Australia.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.


  1. Francis, M. P., 1993 Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science. 47(2):136-170.
  2. Gomon, M.F. Family Carangidae. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  3. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  4. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  5. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  6. Smith-Vaniz, W.F., 1999. Carangidae. Jacks and scads. Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (ed). pp 2659-2756. In The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Vol. 4. FAO species identification guide for Fishery purposes. FAO.