Samsonfish, Seriola hippos Günther 1876

Other Names: Abrolhos Kingfish, Kingfish, Kingy, Sambo, Samson, Samson Fish, Samson-fish, Sea Kingfish

A Samsonfish, Seriola hippos, at a pinnacle in the Gracetown area, southern Western Australia. Source: Julie Shuttleworth. License: All rights reserved

Samsonfish are silvery with a greyish-green, brownish to bronze sheen on the back, and sometimes a yellowish stripe along the sides. After death, they often appear darker with a barred pattern on the sides.
Juveniles have a very blunt head and are greenish to yellow with five broad bands on the body. Adults have a less convex head profile and are more uniformly coloured.
This large powerful fast-swimming predator is renowned for its fighting abilities when hooked.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Seriola hippos in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024,

Samsonfish, Seriola hippos Günther 1876

More Info


Known from temperate waters of southern Australia, Norfolk Island and northern New Zealand. In Australia, the species occurs from Moreton Bay, Queensland, to Lakes Entrance, Victoria, and Marion Bay, South Australia, to Shark Bay, Western Australia.

The species is particularly common along the Western Australian coast, usually inhabiting inshore oceanic waters, often around reefs, jetties, pylons and wrecks. Juveniles often shelter below pelagic Sargassum rafts and occasionally enter estuaries.

Off western and southern Australia, Samsonfish undertake long-distance migrations, and form large spawning aggregations near Rottnest Island. Some individuals travel more than 2,400 km.


Attains a maximum age of about 30 years.
Seriola hippos forms large spawning aggregations during late spring to early autumn. Aggregations of more than 30,000 individuals covering a circular area of up to 1,875 m² have been recorded. The length at 50% maturity for females is 83.1 cm and about four year of age while all females over 95 cm are mature. Growth is rapid in the first five years for both sexes (Rowland 2009).


Despite its reputation as poor eating, Samsonfish are a highly prized gamefish, particularly in Western Australia, where they are renowned for their strong fighting abilities. Captured fish are usually released. The species is also taken as bycatch in commercial fisheries. Size and bag limits apply to recreational fishers in Western Australia.

Species Citation

Seriola hippos Günther 1876, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 4 17(43): 392. Type locality: Sydney, NSW.


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Samsonfish, Seriola hippos Günther 1876


Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Department of Fisheries. 2007. Catching and caring for Samson fish (Seriola hippos). Fisheries Occasional Publication 43. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Carangidae. pp. 582-590 figs 516-522 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.

Günther, A. 1876. Remarks on fishes, with descriptions of new species in the British Museum, chiefly from southern seas. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4 17(43): 389-402. (p. 466 as Seriola gigas - a junior homonym)

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

May, J.L. & J.G.H. Maxwell. 1986. Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 p.

McCulloch, A.R. & Whitley, G.P. in McCulloch, A.R. 1929. A check-list of the fishes recorded from Australia. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 5(1–4): 1-534 (p. 183, as Naucratopsis excusabilis)

Paulin, C., Stewart, A., Roberts, C. & McMillan, P. 1989. New Zealand fish: a complete guide. National Museum of New Zealand Miscellaneous Series 19: 1-279

Pepperell, J. 2010. Fishes of the Open Ocean a Natural History & Illustrated Guide. Sydney : University of New South Wales Press Ltd 266 pp.

Prokop, F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide. Croydon South, Victoria : Australian Fishing Network 256 pp.

Rowland, A.J. 2009. The biology of Samson Fish Seriola hippos with emphasis on the sportfishery in Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University. PDF

Smith, A., J. Pepperell, J. Diplock & P. Dixon. 1991. Study suggests NSW kingfish one stock. Australian Fisheries 50(3): 34-36.

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1999. Family Carangidae. pp. 2659-2756 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 2069-2790 pp.

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 2008. Family Carangidae. pp. 575-581 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. & Williams, I. 2016. Seriola hippos. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T20435675A65927975. Downloaded on 12 March 2017.

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37337007

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-100 m

Fishing:Commercial & popular sportsfish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:173 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map