King Gar, Scomberesox saurus (Walbaum 1792)

Other Names: Bill Fish, Billfish, Saurie, Saury, Skipper

A King Gar, Scomberesox saurus, from a seamount in the Tasman Sea, May 2003. Source: Robin McPhee / NORFANZ Founding Parties. License: All rights reserved


Slender, elongate fishes with a small mouth, long beak-like extensions of upper and lower jaws, the lower slightly longer than upper, short-based dorsal and anal fins positioned far back on the body, followed by 5-7 finlets, and a deeply forked symmetrical tail.

King Gar are dark blue to brownish above, silvery white below, with a broad silver lateral stripe, a dark blue to green spot at pectoral-fin base, and a blue tail and dorsal finlets.

Some authors consider the Southern Hemisphere form to be Scomberesox scombroides.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Scomberesox saurus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024,

King Gar, Scomberesox saurus (Walbaum 1792)

More Info


Southern half of Australia, from off Cape Moreton, Queensland, to off Barrow Island, Western Australia, including Tasmania; also the Lord Howe Province in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is widespread the Southern Hemisphere and North Atlantic Ocean. 

The King Gar forms schools in the open ocean, and occasionally enters bays and estuaries.


Dorsal fin 10-12 + 6 finlets; Anal fin 12-13 + 7 finlets; Caudal fin 16-17; Pectoral fin 12-14; Pelvic fin 6
Lateral line scales 107-128.

Body. slender, elongate, with a small mouth and long beak-like extensions of the upper and lower jaws, lower jaw slightly longer than upper; short-based dorsal and anal fins far back on the body, followed by 5-7 finlets and a deeply forked symmetrical tail.


 To 45 cm SL.


Dark blue to brownish above, silvery white below, with broad silver lateral stripe, a dark blue or green spot at pectoral-fin base and blue tail and dorsal finlets.


Feeds mostly on plankton including fish larvae. This species is preyed upon by many marine animals, including tunas, seabirds and mammals.


  • IUCN Red List : Least Concern
  • Remarks

    Although this species is found worldwide with an antitropical distribution, many authors follow Hubbs & Wisner (1980) and treat the southern circumglobal form as Scomberesox saurus scombroides and the northern form as Scomberesox saurus saurus.

    Species Citation

  • Esox saurus Walbaum, J.J., in Artedi, P. 1792. Synonymia nominum Piscium fere omnium; Ichthyologiae. Edn 2 Grypeswaldiae Pars 4: 92. Type locality: Cornwall, England.
  • Author

    Bray, D.J. 2021


    Atlas of Living Australia

    King Gar, Scomberesox saurus (Walbaum 1792)


  • Aizawa, M. 2002. Families Hemiramphidae, Exocoetidae, Belonidae, Scomberesocidae. pp. 1516-1518 in Nakabo, T. (ed.) Fishes of Japan with pictorial keys to the species. English edition. Tokyo : Toikai University Press pp. 867-1749.
  • Collette, B.B. 2015. Scomberesox saurus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T190211A15590295. Downloaded on 06 January 2019.
  • Gomon, M.F. 1994. Families Exocoetidae, Hemiramphidae, Scomberesocidae. pp. 383-393 figs 343-351 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.
  • Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Scomberesocidae. pp. 409 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.
  • Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke. A. (eds.) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth, Western Australia : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.
  • Hubbs, C.L. & Wisner, R.L. 1980. Revision of the sauries (Pisces, Scomberesocidae) with descriptions of two new genera and one new species. Fishery Bulletin (U.S.) 77(3): 521-566 figs 1-17 (as Scomberesox saurus scombroides)
  • 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)
  • Lacépède, B.G. 1803. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : chez Plassan Vol. 5 803 pp. 21 pls. (described as Scomberesox camperii)
  • Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs.
  • May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.
  • Parin, N.V. 1973. Family Exocoetidae. pp. 263-267 in Hureau, J.-C. & Monod, T. (eds). Checklist of the Fishes of the North-Eastern Atlantic and of the Mediterranean (CLOFNAM). Paris : UNESCO Vol. 1 683 pp.
  • Prokop, F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide. Croydon South, Victoria : Australian Fishing Network 256 pp.
  • Richardson, J. 1843. Report on the present state of the ichthyology of New Zealand. Report of the 12th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 1842: 12-30 (described as Sairis scombroides)
  • Scott, T.D., Glover, C.J.M. & Southcott, R.V. 1974. The Marine and Freshwater Fishes of South Australia. Adelaide : Government Printer 392 pp. figs. (as Scomberesox forsteri)
  • Struthers, C.D. 2015. Families Belonidae, Scomberesocidae. pp. 949-953 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 3 pp. 577-1152. 
  • Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1846. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 18 505 pp. pls 520-553. (described as Scombresox forsteri)
  • Waite, E.R. 1928. Check list of the marine fishes of South Australia. Journal of the Pan-Pacific Research Institute 3(1): 3-13 (as Scomberesox forsteri)
  • Walbaum, J.J. in Artedi, P. 1792. Synonymia nominum Piscium fere omnium; Ichthyologiae. Edn 2 Grypeswaldiae Pars 4 143 pp.
  • Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37236001

    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

    Depth:0-30 m

    Habitat:Oceanic, epipelagic

    Max Size:50 cm TL

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