Offshore Gulf Fish
Offshore fish fall into one of three groups: (1) open water drifters, called planktonic fish, (2) open water swimmers, called pelagic fish, and (3) bottom dwellers, called benthic fish (primarily reef fish in the area).
Planktonic fish are poorer swimmers than the pelagic. As such, they tend to stay near seaweed and drift along with it. These fish are typically bulbous in shape with broad fins.
Pelagic fish tend to be torpedo-shaped with stiff angular fins for efficient swimming. They are usually silver or blue and have good eyesight. Species of pelagic fish found in the Gulf include sharks, manta rays, remoras, cobias/lings, jacks, mahi mahi (dolphin fish), and mackerels.
Benthic fish have the greatest degree of variety, coming in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. Most local benthic animals are reef fish. They include rays and skates, eel, grouper, and snapper.
Jellyfish can also be found both offshore and inshore. The Gulf Coast is home to at least 10 different species of jellyfish, including the Portuguese man o’ war and the sea nettle jellyfish. Jellyfish are some of the oldest creatures on the planet, having roamed the seas for at least 500 million years. As they are invertebrates, jellyfish are not truly fish and are sometimes more correctly referred to as jellies or sea jellies.