The southern puffer, Sphoeroides nephelus, has a brown body, paler below, adorned with a variety of darker and lighter spots and blotches and often pale tan rings and semicircles. Larger dark splotches along the lower sides are variable and dark slashes may occur on the lower cheek. A dark interorbital (between the eyes) bar and a distinctive dark spot at the axil of the pectoral fins are particularly useful in identifying specimens. mature, ripe males may be covered with small, bright red or orange spots (Shipps 1978). Hard spines are lacking and the usual ray count is: dorsal=7; anal=6; pectoral=14 (Hoese and Moore 1977 Robbins et al. 1986).As with other puffers, the small mouth is comprised of 4 teeth fused together to form a strong beak. Individuals lack scales (Hinchcliff 2004).