Revel in this trove of nine enchantingly fanciful and marine-based collective nouns, including the charmingly named smack of jellyfish.

Over 500 years ago, Dame Juliana Berners, a noblewoman and the prioress of the Sopwell Nunnery in England, published a collection of advice on fishing, hawking, hunting and heraldry. Named the “Book of St. Albans,” this curious volume also contained a trove of strange and humorous descriptions of noun groups. Some of these collective nouns attained widespread acceptance such as a “flight of stairs” and a “school of fish.” Over time, additional terms caught on while some remained a joke or were rarely used, e.g. a “nutcluster of dugongs” or “host of angelfish.” One of our favorites appears in the title to this article — a smack of jellyfish.

Referring to the animal’s behavior or the poetic images conjured from the humans observing them, the list below of nine marine-based collective nouns remains enchantingly fanciful (and more or less officially sanctioned). So, next time you’re on a dive boat, surprise and impress your buddies by referring to the animals you see with the below terms.

  1. A battery of barracuda
  2. A party of rainbow fish
  3. A glide or squadron of flying fish
  4. A fluther or smack of jellyfish
  5. A turmoil of porpoises (far more delightful than the common alliteration, “pod of porpoises”)

Video by

  1. A fever of stingrays (which includes any of the stingray family, such as eagle rays and butterfly rays)
  2. A risk of lobsters
  3. A flotilla of swordfish
  4. A shiver or slew of sharks (more bloodcurdling than the ordinary “school of sharks”)

Bonus fact:

Often used interchangeably, a “shoal of fish” and a “school of fish” represent distinct activities. A shoal of fish congregates together socially to benefit from safety in numbers, but each does as it pleases. A school of fish coordinates their behavior and maneuvers as one, such as when they swim tightly together or rapidly alter direction in unison.

Have something to add to this post? Share it in the comments.
New stuff
Ray Mutilation

Locals Take a Stand over Ray Mutilation and Slaughter

Local divers and ocean lovers in Melbourne, Australia have started a campaign in Port Phillip Bay to put a stop to illegal ray mutilation and slaughter.
by Guest Author
Best Diving in New Caledonia

Best Diving in New Caledonia

Tiny New Caledonia, in the South Pacific between Brisbane, Australia and Fiji, is a diver’s paradise. Here’s a peek at the best diving in New Caledonia.
by Kathryn Curzon

Marine Species: Frogfish

A diver and photographer favorite, frogfish have a reputation of being hard to find. What’s the best way to spot one of these distinctive fish on a dive?
by Hélène Reynaud
Dive Safety Equipment

Top Five Pieces of Dive Safety Equipment

These top five pieces of dive safety equipment can help make your dives more comfortable, stress-free and, potentially, save the day.
by Marcus Knight