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October 26, 2001

Biggest Fish

What are the 10 largest marine fish?

Q: I have always wondered about the size of the world's fish, but I haven't been able to find an answer to this question: What are the 10 largest marine fish, regardless of whether or not they're caught by sport fishermen? And which are the largest game fish? - Larry G. Field, Billings, Montana

A: Determining whether one fish is bigger than another by weight alone depends on who weighed the fish and how reliable their scales are. Often, the largest fish are landed in places that have no scales at all - or their scales aren't big enough to weigh fish over 1,000 pounds. Therefore, scientists usually use length to indicate the maximum size of a fish.
Generally speaking, sharks are the biggest fish in the oceans, followed by marlins and giant tuna. The top 10 are all sharks or closely related cartilaginous fishes. The whale shark is the largest at 60 feet, followed by the basking shark, 45 feet, the white shark, 26 feet, and the tiger shark, 24 feet. At 22 feet long, the manta ray may actually weigh more than a great white or tiger shark - around 4,000 pounds. Greenland sharks reach 21 feet, while greater hammerhead and thresher sharks reach 20 feet. The blue shark has been reported to reach 21 feet. The largetooth sawfish at 20 feet rounds out the top 10. At these sizes, all these fish would weigh well over 1,000 pounds.
According to the International Game Fish Association, the top 10 all-tackle, world-record game-fish species by weight: great white shark, 2,664 pounds; Greenland shark, 1,709 pounds; tiger shark, 1,780 pounds; black marlin, 1,560 pounds; bluefin tuna, 1,496 pounds; blue marlin, 1,402 pounds; swordfish, 1,182 pounds; mako shark, 1,115 pounds; six-gilled shark, 1,069 pounds; and hammerhead shark, 991 pounds. These record game fish are not the largest known examples of their species, just the largest caught using IGFA rules. Of course, the biggest fishes in the world, the whale shark and the basking shark, are not considered game fish.