Animal Species:Samsonfish, Seriola hippos Günther, 1876

Samsonfish vary considerably in body shape and colouration with growth. The species occurs in Australian and New Zealand waters.

Samsonfish at Shelly Beach, Sydney

Samsonfish at Shelly Beach, Sydney
Photographer: Jonathan Regan © Jonathan Regan

Standard Common Name


Alternative Name/s

Abrolhos Kingfish, Kingfish, Kingy, Sambo, Sea Kingfish


The Samsonfish is an elongate compressed fish with a forked caudal fin. The dorsal and anal fins are elevated anteriorly. The pectoral fins are small.

The species varies considerably in body shape and colouration with growth. Juveniles have blunt heads and broad vertical bars on the body. Adults are usually silvery with a brownish to bronze sheen on the back. There is sometimes a yellow stripe on the side of the body. After capture the fish often takes on a barred pattern and becomes darker brown above after death.

Four species of Seriola occur in Australian waters.  In addition to the Samsonfish, Seriola hippos, there are the Amberjack, Seriola dumerili, Yellowtail Kingfish, Seriola lalandi and the Highfin Amberjack, Seriola rivoliana.

The Amberjack has a purplish-brown back and caudal fin. The Yellowtail Kingfish has a blue to bluish-green back and a yellow caudal fin, It has a broad yellow, midlateral stripe. The Highfin Amberjack is a stockier fish with a high leading lobe to the second dorsal fin. Adults have an obvious line through the eye.

Size range

The species grows to about 1.75 m in length.

Similar Species

See Identification.


The Samsonfish occurs in Australian and New Zealand waters. In Australia it is known from southern Queensland to southern New South Wales and the Yorke Peninsula South Australia to the central coast of Western Australia.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Seriola hippos

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Samsonfish specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


It is a pelagic, schooling species that occurs in coastal and inshore waters often near rocky reefs.



What does this mean?


  1. Francis, M. P., 1993 Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science. 47(2):136-170.
  2. Gomon, M.F. Family Carangidae. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  3. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  4. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  5. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  6. Smith-Vaniz, W.F., 1999. Carangidae. Jacks and scads. Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (ed). pp 2659-2756. In The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Vol. 4. FAO species identification guide for Fishery purposes. FAO.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Samsonfish, Seriola hippos, Carangidae, Abrolhos Kingfish, Kingfish, Kingy, Sambo, Sea Kingfish, elongate, compressed body, forked caudal fin, small pectoral fins, blunt head, stripes or bands, vertical bars, silver, brown, bronze, yellow stripe, > 1m, marine, pelagic, schooling species, coastal water, inshore water, rocky reef,