Cohen's Puffer, Pelagocephalus coheni Tyler & Paxton 1979

Illustration of the holotype of Cohen's Puffer, Pelagocephalus coheni, AMS 1.15601-001, 91.5 mm SL, Norfolk Island. Source: After Fig. 1, in Tyler & Paxton (1979) Bulletin of Marine Science 29(2): 202-215. License: All rights reserved

A small slender tan-coloured pelagic puffer becoming paler below, with very pale tan lines and reticulations on the sides and back, small irregularly rounded dark tan to blackish spots scattered on the body and fins.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Pelagocephalus coheni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Cohen's Puffer, Pelagocephalus coheni Tyler & Paxton 1979

More Info


Known only from the Australian territory of Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea.


Dorsal fin 9; Anal fin 9; Pectoral fin 14, upper two rays unbranched on both sides and lowermost ray unbranched on left side only, other rays branched; Caudal fin 11, uppermost ray and lowermost two rays unbranched, other rays branched; Gill rakers laterally on first arch 9-10, including one rudiment above and below; Vertebrae 17. 
Nasal apparatus plate-like and bifurcate, ventral flange of the parasphenoid bone; single lateral line on body curving gently downward from head over region of pectoral fin and coursing to middle of base of caudal fin; no keel of skin along ventrolateral curve of body, with which in some other tetraodontids a second of two lateral lines is associated; skin spines present only on belly; anal fin origin relatively posterior in position, just behind rear end of dorsal fin base.


Most of head and upper half of body medium tan with very pale tan lines and reticulations, ventrum also pale tan; small irregularly rounded dark tan to blackish spots scattered everywhere along body, least so on ventrum; very pale tan markings on dorsum tending to be more linear on back, although with bifurcations and anastomoses, than on head, where pattern is more reticulate; fins relatively pale, except for presence of dark tan to blackish spots.


The generic name Pelagocephalus is from Pelagius, (= of the sea), in allusion to the envisioned offshore, openwater habitat of the streamlined fish, and cephalus (= head), in allusion both to the sleek head and to the similarity of the name with that of Lagocephalus (= rabbit head; appropriate for most species, but not for the two which are pelagic), one of the several genera closely related to it. 
The species is named in honor of Dr. Daniel M. Cohen, Director of the National Systematics Laboratory of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Washington, D.C., a collector of many invaluable Indo-Pacific fishes for the use of others, and a benefactor of both of the authors on many occasions.

Species Citation

Pelagocephalus coheni Tyler & Paxton 1979, Bulletin of Marine Science 29(2): 203, fig. 1. Type locality: on the ground beneath a tree containing a nest of the white tern, Gygis alba. at the Melanesian Mission, 0.7 km inland from the central western coastline of Norfolk Island in the western South Pacific Ocean.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Cohen's Puffer, Pelagocephalus coheni Tyler & Paxton 1979


Tyler, J. 2014. Pelagocephalus coheni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T64528661A64528663. Downloaded on 25 July 2019.

Tyler, J.C. & Paxton, J.C. 1979. New genus and species of pufferfish (Tetraodontidae) from Norfolk Island, southwest Pacific. Bulletin of Marine Science 29(2): 202-215 See ref online, open access

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37467070

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:0- 70 m

Habitat:Semi-pelagic offshore

Max Size:9.2 cm SL

Native:Endemic (AUS EEZ)

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