• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Fish ID - A Puzzler from the Strait of Gibraltar (1 Viewer)

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
Holiday Snaps.

A puzzler for anyone who knows their fish, especially those who are familiar with the marine inhabitants of the Strait.

Afternoon 10th May, I was sitting at Punta Camorro, overlooking Tarifa and looking out to sea for any approaching raptors coming from Africa. I got my eye on a smooth oily patch of water, where a large white object was drifting and attracting the attention of a group of large gulls, mainly yellow-legged, who were perching on the dead creature and tearing strips from it. As it drifted towards me from the east, I started to pay attention. My first reaction to the white object was that it was maybe the belly of a small whale, but as it got closer, drifting westwards towards me, I realised that the whiteness wasn't just a surface part of a much larger creature but almost its full length, with only the tail being underwater at the right hand end. Not a dolphin. Wrong shape.

I thought maybe a large tuna floating on its left side, with its head towards the shore. Colour was meaningless almost and gave no clues because gulls had stripped the skin away. Pink flesh showed through in patches, but the overall impression was just whiteness.

I get the impression of a gaping, open mouth at the shoreward, left end, with maybe a gill cavity beyond it, with a gill plate having been torn away. I'm not sure if it's round enough in section for a tuna (it's tuna season and nets were set off Tarifa), but whatever it is, it's big, maybe 3m (10 feet) long. Those gulls that are sitting on it are 60cm (2 feet) long and 1.5M (5 feet) in wingspan. Not a halibut - they are cold water fish and don't occur there. Maybe a big grouper?

It finished up stranded on rock outcrops just below me, but trouble in my knee stopped me going to get closer.

By the next morning it was gone, washed away by the tide.

Any ideas?


  • AG7_2075-fbook.jpg
    667.5 KB · Views: 35
  • AG7_2116-fbook.jpg
    714.7 KB · Views: 36
  • AG7_2131-fbook.jpg
    748.1 KB · Views: 36
  • AG7_2138-fbook.jpg
    758.4 KB · Views: 36
  • AG7_2149-fbook.jpg
    677.3 KB · Views: 36
The first pic looks like a well decayed Common Dolphin
Going from the size of the gulls, it's much larger than the 6 feet length of a common dolphin. The body is much deeper in proportion to the length and on shots where what's left of the tail is visible, it's in line with body, rather than across it. I'm happy that it's a fish rather than a cetacean, and tuna fits the bill.

Users who are viewing this thread