Santiago The novella's central character. A dedicated fisherman who taught Manolin everything he knows about fishing, Santiago is now old and poor and has gone 84 days without a catch.
Manolin A young man from the fishing village who has fished with Santiago since the age of five and now cares for the old man. Manolin recently began fishing with another fisherman whom his parents consider luckier than Santiago.
Martin The owner of the Terrace (his name is Spanish for St. Martin), he sends food and drink to Santiago through Manolin.
Rogelio A man of the village who on occasion helps Santiago with the fishing net.
Perico A man at the bodega (his name is Spanish for St. Peter, an apostle and fisherman) who gives Santiago newspapers to read.
Marlin An eighteen-foot bluish billfish and a catch of legendary proportions.
Mako A mackerel shark (dentuso in Spanish) that is a voracious and frightening killer known for its rows of large, sharp teeth.
Shovel-nosed sharks The scavenger sharks (galanos in Spanish) that destroy the marlin.
Pedrico A fisherman in the village who looks after Santiago's skiff and gear and receives the marlin's head to use in fish traps.
Tourists A man and woman at the Terrace who see the marlin's skeleton and, misunderstanding a waiter's explanation of what happened, think the skeleton is that of a shark.