Darwin Toadfish, Marilyna darwinii (Castelnau 1873)

Other Names: Darwin's Toadfish

A Darwin Toadfish, Marilyna darwinii, at Main Beach, Port Hedland, Western Australia, May 2018. Source: Kristin Anderson / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A greenish-yellow pufferfish with greyish mottling, becoming yellowish-silver on the sides and white below, bright yellow fins, and three broad, dark bars across the back and upper sides: one between the eyes, the second at midbody, and the third at the dorsal-fin base. This species usually lacks a bar on the caudal peduncle.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Marilyna darwinii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2021,

Darwin Toadfish, Marilyna darwinii (Castelnau 1873)

More Info


Cape Lambert, Western Australia, to Cape York, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in West Papua, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.
Inhabits shallow coastal and estuarine waters, including mangroves and sandy areas in depths to 10 m.


Dorsal fin 10-11; Anal fin 8-9; Pectoral fin 17-19; Caudal fin 11; Vertebrae v&m 8-9 + 11. 
Body robust, broadly rounded dorsally and flattened ventrally, elongate and tapering to a deep caudal penduncle; chin absent.
Spines restricted to dense patches on the back, extending from level with nasal organs to posterior of pectoral fin; and on belly, distributed from level with posterior margin of eyes almost to vent; occasionally a few spines scattered on sides anterior to pectoral fin. 
Ventral skin fold running from behind pectoral fin to caudal fin.

Similar Species

Marilyna pleurosticta lacks skin spines on the back. M. meraukensis has dense spines on the sides, and lacks bars across the back.dense on lateral surface of body; dorsum may be spotted, but never with bands 


The species is named darwinii for Charles Darwin. Castelnau writes: "Dedicated to the greatest naturalist of the age."

Species Citation

Tetrodon darwinii Castelnau 1873, Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 2: 94. Type locality: Port Darwin, Northern Territory.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Darwin Toadfish, Marilyna darwinii (Castelnau 1873)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. 

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. 

Blaber, S.J.M., Young, J.W. & Dunning, M.C. 1985. Community structure and zoogeographic affinities of the coastal fishes of the Dampier region of north-western Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 247-266, https://doi.org/10.1071/MF9850247

Castelnau, F.L. de 1873. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 5. Notes on fishes from north Australia. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 2: 83-97 See ref at BHL

Hardy, G.S. 1982. Two new generic names for some Australian pufferfishes (Tetraodontiformes : Tetraodontidae), with species redescriptions and osteological comparisons. The Australian Zoologist 21(1): 1-24 figs 1-6 https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.1982.001

Hutchins, B. 2004. Fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 66: 343–398 

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp. 

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293 

Macleay, W.J. 1878. The fishes of Port Darwin. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 2(4): 344-367 pls 7-10 (described as Tetrodon fasciatus) See ref at BHL

Munro, I.S.R. 1967. The Fishes of New Guinea. Port Moresby : Dept. Agric. Stock Fish. 651 pp. 23 figs 84 pls. 

Shao, K., Liu, M., Jing, L., Hardy, G., Leis, J.L. & Matsuura, K. 2014. Marilyna darwinii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T193785A2276584. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T193785A2276584.en. Downloaded on 28 May 2020.

Taylor, W.R. 1964. Fishes of Arnhem Land. Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land 4: 44-307 figs 1-68 (p. 297, misidentified as Sphoeroides pleurostictus, and p. 298, misidentified as Sphoeroides hamiltoni)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37467046

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern


Depth:0-10 m

Habitat:Estuaries, coastal waters

Max Size:15 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map