Although the first Antarctic fish were caught during James Clark Ross’s expedition in 1840, it was not until the 1960’s that commercial fishing started. Today fish like seals and whales in Antarctica are covered by the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources agreement.
75% of the 200 Antarctic fish species come from one genetic order, the Nototheniiformes. Most notably the Antarctic Cod and the Ice Fish, which are able to withstand the cold because their blood is loaded with glycoproteins that depresses the freezing point to below that of the surrounding sea water.
Antarctic Cod (Notothenia coriiceps)
The Antarctic cod is the largest of the Antarctic Fish species growing to a length of 1.5m and weighing on average 25kg.
Ice Fish (Champsocephalus gunnari)
Ice Fish is particularly famous as it is the only vertebrate that completely lacks hemoglobin (red blood cells) in its blood.
Patagonia Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides)
The Patagonia Toothfish is one of the two largest species of fish in the Antarctic, ranging from 70 cm to 215 cm. It is brown-grey in colour, has quite a large mouth with teeth making it look canine-like, and feeds on other fish and cephalopods. They can be found in all the shelves of the sub-Antarctic islands, and also on the southern coast of Chile and the coast of Argentina (especially in the Patagonian area).
Marbled Notothon (Notothenia rossii)
The Marbled Notothon is sometimes called marbled rockcod, and has an average size of 92 cm. Its maximum weight is 10 kg and can live up to a maximum of 16 years, however the males can only live up to only 12 years. The young fish feed on mesozooplankton, and adult fish are harmless to humans.
Eelpout (Lycenchelys antarcticus)
The Eelpout is a deepwater fish and has an average size of 24.8 cm. They can be found in Antarctic waters as well as the Atlantic Ocean (the Scotia Sea abyss and Peru-Chile Trench) and are harmless to humans.
Plunder Fish (Harpagifer antarcticus)
The Plunder fish has an average size of 9.5 cm and has a maximum lifespan of 9 years. They can be found along the coasts of the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetlands, the South Orkneys and the South Sandwich islands. They are usually found under rocks, and are harmless to humans.
Dragon Fish (Parachaenichthys georgianus)
Dragon fish are harmless to humans and can be found on the insular shelf of South Georgia and around the Sandwich Islands. They feed on other fish and mysids and their eggs measure 2.4 to 3.4 mm in diameter.
Rattail Fish (Coryphaenoides filicauda)
The Rattail fish is a deepwater fish (2500 – 5000 m) and its average size is 40 cm. They can be found only in the sub-Antarctic region, and are harmless to humans.
Eaton’s skate (Bathyraja eatonii)
The Eaton’s skate can reach a maximum size of 100 cm, and is harmless to human beings. They are found mostly on the Kerguelen Plateau, around the South Orkneys and the South Shetlands, as well as in the north eastern Weddell Sea and on the Gunnerus Ridge.
Finless Flounder (Achiropsetta tricholepis)
The finless flounder has an average length of 39 cm, and is known to be harmless to humans. They can be found in the ocean around Patagonia, the Falklands and the Burdwood Bank. They’ve also been seen around the Kerguelen Islands, the Crozet Islands, and around the Campbell Plateau. Finless flounders swim in depths around 100 to 1020 m.
Antarctic Dragonfish (Bathydraco joannae)
The Antarctic dragonfish is a deepwater fish, found at depths of 600 to 1800 m. They can be found in the Southern Ocean, on the upper slopes of the Scotia Sea islands, and are harmless to humans. The Antarctic dragonfish has an average size of 20 cm and are of no interest to fisheries.
Warming’s Lantern Fish (Ceratoscopelus warmingii)
With an average size of 8.1 cm, the Warming’s lantern fish has a depth range from 20 to 1500 m. They are reported to be common around the south of South Africa and the Indian Ocean. Young fish, measuring from 1.5 to 1.9 cm, do apparently not migrate. Warming’s lantern fish feed mostly on zooplankton but are often herbivory.
This fish is part of the Antarctic dragonfish, and are found on the Antarctic continental slope and slopes of the South Orkney and South Sandwich islands. Their average length is 17 cm; they are harmless to humans and have a depth range of 2100 to 2950 m.
Pouched lamprey (Geotria australis)
The pouched lamprey has an average size of 50 cm (maximum 62 cm), and can be found along the coasts of all southern continents, and even in rivers in Argentina and Chile. They are of no interest to fisheries and are also harmless to humans. The adult pouched lamprey stops feeding while in freshwater (they spawn only in freshwater), and dies shortly after the young fish are born.
Rakery Beaconlamp (Lampanyctus macdonaldi)
The rakery beaconlamp has an average size of 16 cm and has a depth range from 60 to 1000 m. The young fish can only be found from 60 to 175 m. Rakery beaconlamps can be found in the South Atlantic and in the Falkland region, and are harmless to humans.
Bogue Lanternfish (Symbolophorus boops)
The bogue lanternfish has an average size of 15.7 cm and an average depth range of about 500 m. It is a deepwater fish, and is harmless to humans. They can be found in the Eastern Atlantic (Benguela Upwelling Region), Western Atlantic (south of the Subtropical Convergence), Western Pacific (Australia and New Zealand), and Eastern Pacific (off Chile).
This fish has an average size of 12.3 cm and is a deepwater fish. They are of minor interest to fisheries, and are found below 200 m. Young fish are found in warmer and more northern waters. These fish are found in the Southern Ocean, and only once was there a fish found in the Pacific Ocean.
South Georgia Icefish (Pseudochaenichthys georgianus)
The South Georgia icefish has an average size of 60 cm and a maximum weight of 1450 g. They have a depth range ranging from 0 to 475 m, and are of minor interest to fisheries. They are known only from the islands of the Scotia Sea and the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula. The adult South Georgia icefish feeds mainly on krill and other fish, and is harmless to humans.
This fish has an average size of 15 cm, has a depth range of 700 to 2000 m, and is a deepwater fish. They are of no interest whatsoever to fisheries and are found in the Southern Ocean (in sub-Antarctic as well as Antarctic waters). They are harmless to humans.
Yellowbelly Rockcod (Notothenia coriiceps)
With an average size of 62 cm, the yellowbelly rockcod has a depth range of 0 to 550 m (most commonly found in less than 200 m, however). They are of potential interest to fisheries and are harmless to humans. The yellowbelly rockcod has been found in the Ross Sea, the Balleny islands, Adélie Land, around the Antarctic Peninsula, islands of South Georgia, around the Weddell Sea and the sub-Antarctic islands in the Indian Ocean.
Messmate (Echiodon cryomargarites)
Messmates have an average size of 41 cm, and are of no interest to fisheries. They have a depth range of 800 to 842 m, and are deepwater fish. The messmate is an eel-like fish, and is also known to be harmless to humans. They are widely distributed in the waters of the southern hemisphere, around New Zealand, southern Australia, Chile, Argentina, the Falklands, and Brazil. They have recently also been found off South Georgia in the Antarctic.
Naked-Head Toothfish (Gvozdarus svetovidovi)
With an average size of 100 cm, the naked-head toothfish is of no interest to fisheries. It is a polar fish with a depth range of about 550 m. Naked-head toothfish are circum-Antarctic (found south of the Antarctic Polar Front and in the Ross and Cooperation Seas), and are harmless to humans.
With an average size of 23 cm, this fish, a deepwater fish, has a depth range of 550 to 588 m. They are harmless to humans, and are of no interest to fisheries whatsoever. These fish can be found in the Southern Ocean (only in the Ross Sea).
This fish has an average size of 55 cm, and is a deepwater fish with a range of about 1000 m. Young fish can be seen from near the surface from down to roughly 200 m and adults are mainly seen from about 300 to 800 m. They feed mostly on other fish, and are harmless to humans. These fish can be found in the Southern Ocean as well as south of the Antarctic Convergence.
This fish is a temperate fish with an average size of 22 cm. Scientists are not sure what its depth range is. They are harmless to humans and can be found in circum-Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters.
Smalleye Moray Cod (Muraenolepis microps)
The smalleye Moray cod has an average size of 35 cm and has a depth range of 10 to 1600 m. They are of no interest to fisheries, and can be found on the coasts of the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Scotia Sea, around Victoria Land and in the Ross Sea. Smalleye Moray cods feed on zooplankton and are harmless to humans.
Antarctic Jonasfish (Notolepis coatsi)
With an average size of 38 cm, the Antarctic jonasfish is a deepwater fish, and has a depth range of 0 to 2000 m. They are of no interest to fisheries, and can be found in Antarctic pelagic waters. Antarctic jonasfish are harmless to humans and feed only on krill.
This fish is a deepwater fish, 24 cm long on average, with a depth range of 800 to 1100 m. They are of no interest to fisheries and can be found in the Southern Ocean as well as the Weddell Sea. They are harmless to humans and are one of the most brightly coloured liparidids known.
Dusky Notothen (Trematomus newnesi)
Dusky notothens are polar fish that are harmless to humans and are 20 cm long on average. They have a depth range of 0 to 400 m and are of no interest to fisheries. They feed mainly on amphipods, polychaetes, gastropods, isopods, copepods and euphausiids, and are found in the Southern Ocean (Weddell Sea, West coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands, Elephant Island, the South Orkneys, Adélie Coasts, and the Ross Sea).