Highfin Lizardfish, Bathysaurus mollis Günther 1878

A Highfin Lizardfish, Bathysaurus mollis, on a seamount around Johnston Atoll, Central Pacific Ocean, July 2017. Source: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 Laulima O Ka Moana: Exploring Deep Monument Waters Around Johnston Atoll. License: CC by Attribution

A pale deepwater lizardfish with dark peritoneum, branchial and buccal areas, and a large adipose fin above the rear of the anal-fin base. Juveniles have faint vertical bars along the sides. The Deepsea Lizardfish, Bathysaurus ferox, lacks an adipose fin.

Video of a Highfin Lizardfish, Bathysaurus mollis, swimming above the seafloor, filmed during the NOAA Okeanos 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas.

Video of a Highfin Lizardfish swimming and landing gently on the seafloor in the Indian Ocean off Tanzania at a depth of more than 2300 m.

Video of a Highfin Lizardfish filmed by an Okeanos Explorer ROV in the Caribbean in 2015.

Video of a Highfin Lizardfish (about 47 seconds into the video) also filmed during the NOAA Okeanos 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Bathysaurus mollis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 01 Apr 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/5326

Highfin Lizardfish, Bathysaurus mollis Günther 1878

More Info


Cape Range Canyon, Western Australia, off New South Wales, and the Great Australian Bight, South Australia, in depths of 2100-4250 m. Elsewhere the species is circumglobal except for the Eastern Pacific. The Highfin Lizardfish is bathydemersal on the continental rise and the abyss, mostly below 2,000 m. Larvae are pelagic in the upper oceanic midwaters.


Dorsal fin 16-17; Anal fin 13; Vertebrae 50-51. 
Moderately elongate and slender. Slightly depressed anteriorly and compressed posteriorly. Color generally white, with peritoneum, branchial and buccal regions dark. Small specimens have faint vertical bars 


Deepsea lizardfishes are simultaneus hermaphrodites, and have an ovotestis containing functioning male and female reproductive tissue. The eggs, larvae and postlarvae are pelagic. 

Species Citation

Bathysaurus mollis Günther 1878, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (Ser. 5) 2 (nos 7/8/9): 182. Type locality: middle of South Pacific, Challenger station 281, depth 2385 fathoms; off Tokyo, Japan, Challenger station 237, depth 1873 fathoms. 


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Australian Faunal Directory

Highfin Lizardfish, Bathysaurus mollis Günther 1878


de Bruyne, G., Carpenter, K.E. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 2015. Bathysaurus mollis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T195001A15535158. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T195001A15535158.en. Downloaded on 12 May 2017.

Günther, A. 1878. Preliminary notices of deep-sea fishes collected during the voyage of H.M.S. Challenger. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 5 2(2, 22, 28): 17-28, 179-187, 248-251 See ref at BHL

Günther, A. 1887. Report on the deep-sea fishes collected by H.M.S Challenger during the years 1873–1876. Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger 1873–1876, Zoology 22(57): 1-268 figs 1-7 pls 1-66

Russell, B.C. 1999. Family Bathysauridae. In Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem. Species identification guide for fisheries purposes. The living marine resources of the western central Pacific. Batoid fishes, chimeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome.

Sulak, K.J. 1984. Synodontidae (including Macristiidae and Bathysauridae). In: P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds) Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, pp. 405-411. UNESCO, Paris.

Sulak, K.J., Wenner, C.A., Sedberry, G.R. & L. Van Guelpen, 1985. The life history and systematics of deep-sea lizard fishes, genus Bathysaurus (Synodontidae). Canadian Journal of  Zoology 63: 623-642.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37118031

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1550-4903 m

Habitat:Bathydemersal, continental rise & abyss

Max Size:70 cm SL

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