Oligoplites Saurus

Carangidae

Perciformes

Coral Reefs, Sand, Inshore, Nearshore

8 - 10 pounds

10" - 14"

Leatherjacket

Also Known As: Leathercoat, Leatherjacket, Needlejack, Runner, Zapatero, Jack, Shoemaker

Leatherjacket (Oligoplites Saurus) Fish Description

The leatherjacket is a long, silvery fish that is about 10-11 inches long. It has a blue-green body that may have a yellow tinge, and the skin is ridged with many short grooves that give it a leathery look.

This particular species is often misidentified as two other breeds - a longjaw leatherjack that possesses a more protruding jaw, and a shortjaw leatherjack, which has a jaw akin to its namesake.

As it matures, the leatherjacket will shift its diet. The young will begin feeding on ectoparasites and fish scales when acting as a parasite itself. Once they are fully mature, a leatherjacket will have a diet consisting of small fish like anchovies, and will also consume shrimps, mysids, and macroalgae. 

Leatherjackets are not usually fished for human consumption and have no real commercial contribution, but they have a good flavor for those that know how to handle this fish.

 

Interesting Facts About the Leatherjacket 

  • This game fish’s darkened dorsal and anal fin spines are linked to poisonous glands that can inflict significant pain that can last for days. 
  • Young leatherjackets have been seen adorning a “leaf-mimic” position, wherein they float on the water’s surface with their heads pointed downward and their tails bent upwards

 

Leatherjacket Size

The leatherjacket is a large fish that has been observed to be between 10 inches at a minimum and to grow to 14 inches in length. The highest weight recorded is at 10.1 ounces.

 

Leatherjacket Habitat & Distribution

The leatherjacket’s natural habitat in the western Atlantic Ocean ranges from Maine in the United States to the northern tip of the Gulf of Mexico and has also been spotted south of Uruguay. Sightings have also occurred i