The body of Sphyraena barracuda is elongate to slightly compressed with small, cycloid scales. The head is long and pointed with a large, nearly horizontal jaw fitted with variably-sized flattened or conical canine teeth that extend to the roof of the mouth. Two short dorsal fins are widely separated, with the first located opposite or directly behind the pelvic fins, and the second opposite the anal fin. Usual fin ray counts are as follows: 1st dorsal = 5 strong spines, 2nd dorsal = 1 spine and 9 soft rays, anal = 2 spines and 7-9 rays, pectoral = 1 spine and 5 soft rays (Russell 2002). Young S. barracuda are characterized by a longitudinal dark stripe down the side which breaks into black bars over time, remaining visible in some adults. Overall adult coloration is gray to silver with a green to blue cast above and white below. The caudal fin is black with white tips and anterior lobes near the fork. Although coloration and pattern change, Wilson et al. (2006) found that S. barracuda retain natural markings over prolonged periods of time, which can aid in distinguishing individuals in a population.
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