Flying fish

Flying fish

name = Flyingfish

image_width = 180px
image_caption = Sailfin flying-fish "Parexocoetus brachypterus"
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Actinopterygii
ordo = Beloniformes
familia = Exocoetidae
subdivision_ranks = Genera
subdivision = "Cheilopogon"

The Exocoetidae or flying fish are a marine fish family comprising about 50 species grouped in 7 to 9 genera.Flying fish are found in all of the major oceans, particularly in the warm tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Their most striking feature is their pectoral fins, which are unusually large, and enable the fish to take short gliding flights through air, above the surface of the water, in order to escape from predators.


In some species the pelvic fins are unusually large, so the fish appears to have four wings. Most species reach a maximum length of 30 cm, though a few may be as long as 45 cm. Their eyes are relatively larger than those of other fish as well as flatter which improves visual acuity in the air. Flying fish live close to the water surface and feed on plankton.

To prepare for a glide, the fish swim rapidly close to the surface of the water, with their fins close to the body. As they leave the water, they spread their fins. The caudal fin is usually deeply forked, with the lower lobe longer than the upper. The fish rapidly move the lower lobe to propel themselves forward once the rest of the body has already left the water. Eventually, even the tail leaves the water and the fish are airborne. They can even flap their "wings". In gliding, flying fish can almost double their speed, reaching speeds up to 60 km/h. The glides are usually up to 30-50 metres in length, but some have been observed soaring for hundreds of metres using the updraft on the leading edges of waves. The fish can also make a series of glides, each time dipping the tail into the water to produce forward thrust.

Flying fish use their unusual flying talent to escape predators such as swordfish, tunas, and other larger fish.

Flight Time Record

In May 2008, a Japanese television crew (NHK) filmed a flying fish off the coast of Yakushima Island, Japan. The creature spent 45 seconds in flight. This is thought to be one of the longest recorded flights by a specimen of that family. The fish was able to stay aloft by occasionally beating the surface of the water with its caudal fin.Cite web|url =|title = BBC article and video of flying fish|accessdate=2008-05-20|] The previous record was 42 seconds.


As food source

Flying fish, often preserved by drying, are a staple of the Tao people of Orchid Island. In Japanese cuisine, flying fish roe (Tobiko), often from "Cheilopogon agoo" (Japanese flying fish), is used to make some types of sushi.


Historically the country of Barbados was nicknamed as "The land of the Flying fish." The once abundant flying fish migrated between the warm coral-filled Atlantic Ocean surrounding the island of Barbados and the plankton-rich outflows of the Orinoco River in Venezuela.

Just after the completion of the Deep Water Harbour in Bridgetown, Barbados saw an increase of international ships, linking the island to the world. As a result the overall health of the coral reefs surrounding Barbados suffered due to ship-based pollution. Additionally over-fishing by Barbadians has meant the species of flying fish have slowly retreated closer to the Orinoco river delta no longer returning around Barbados in large numbers. Today the flying fish only annually migrate as far north as the island of Tobago, around 120 nautical miles southwest of Barbados. Despite the move, Flying fish have remained a coveted delicacy in Barbados. In recent times the flying fish have also been gaining in culinary popularity in other islands, adding fuel to several Caribbean-maritime disputes.

In 2006 the council of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea handed down a ruling [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (2006-04-11). [ Arbitration Ruling] between Barbados and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, p. 75.] fixing the maritime boundaries between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago over the flying fish dispute which gradually raised inter-island tensions between the neighbours. [ [ Claims of Caribbean piracy as national symbol takes flight - World - ] ] The ruling stated that both countries must now preserve flying fish stock for the future. Barbadian fishers have still tried to follow the flying fish southward in search of the Barbadian delicacy. Flying fish remain an important part of Barbados' main national dish [ [ Flying fish of Barbados :: ] ] which is known as Cou Cou and Flying Fish. [Editorial: [ Our Fisheries — rights and duties] , "Trinidad & Tobago Express" (2006-06-25).] [ [ Tribunal reaches decision in the marine dispute between Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados] , "Trinidad & Tobago Express" (undated).]

Many aspects of Barbadian culture are centered around the flying fish: it is depicted on coins, as sculptures in fountains, in artwork, or even as part of the official logo of the Barbados Tourism Authority, which features a flying fish in flight. Additionally, the Barbadian coat of Arms features a Pelican and Dolphin fish on either side of the shield, but the dolphin resembles a flying fish.

United States of America

Beginning in the 1970s, flying fish were imported into the United States by catfish farmers who seeded their ponds with the fish. The flying fish consumed algae and plankton, helping to clean the pond. cite news |first=
title=Flying fish breaks teenager's jaw
] Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency began a program permitting cities to use the species to clean water in sewer treatment plants.


The origin of the term "Exocoetidae" is one of:
* Greek 'εξωκοιτος = "lying down outside", "sleeping under the stars", from 'εξω = "outside" and κειμαι = "I lie down", applied to some flying-fishes that go out of water to sleep on the shore (Pliny's Natural History, vol. IX, 19). This form is likelier, as shown by the Latin name "exocoetus".
* Greek εξώκητον = 'external (out of water) cetacean or large sea animal'. In Greek 'κήτος' is used for larger sea animals like whales, but in modern Greek can also be applied to flying fish. Not to be confused with 'κύτος' which means hull (of a ship).

Flying fishes have given their name to:
* The Exocet guided missile [cite book |title= L’extraordinaire aventure de l’Exocet |last= Guillot |first= Jean |coauthors= Estival, Bernard |year= 1988 |publisher= Les éditions de la Cité |location= |isbn= |pages= |url= The missile's name was given by M. Guillot, then technical director at Nord Aviation, after the French name for flying fishes.] .
* Three ships of the United States Navy named USS "Flying Fish".
* The constellation Volans ("flying fish").


ee also

*Flying and gliding animals


External links

* [ May 2008 video of 45 second flight]
* [ Fishbase entry for flyingfish]
* [ Oceanlink Flying fish]
* [ Explanation]
* [ Report] by Christopher Parker
* [ Pictures]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Flying fish — Flying Fly ing, a. [From {Fly}, v. i.] Moving in the air with, or as with, wings; moving lightly or rapidly; intended for rapid movement. [1913 Webster] {Flying army} (Mil.) a body of cavalry and infantry, kept in motion, to cover its own… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • flying fish — flying fishes N VAR (flying fish can also be used as the plural form.) Flying fish are a type of fish that live in warm seas. They have large fins that enable them to move forward in the air when they jump out of the water …   English dictionary

  • Flying fish — Fly ing fish (Zo[ o]l.) A fish which is able to leap from the water, and fly a considerable distance by means of its large and long pectoral fins. These fishes belong to several species of the genus {Exoc[oe]tus}, and are found in the warmer… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • flying fish — n a type of sea fish that can jump out of the water and move along in the air for a short way …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • flying fish — noun count a fish that can move through the air by using its large FINS as wings …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • flying fish — ► NOUN ▪ a fish of warm seas which leaps out of the water and uses its wing like pectoral fins to glide for some distance …   English terms dictionary

  • flying fish — 1. any fish of the family Exocoetidae, having stiff and greatly enlarged pectoral fins enabling it to glide considerable distances through the air after leaping from the water. 2. (caps.) Astron. the constellation Volans. [1505 15] * * * Any of… …   Universalium

  • flying fish — noun tropical marine fishes having enlarged winglike fins used for brief gliding flight • Hypernyms: ↑teleost fish, ↑teleost, ↑teleostan • Hyponyms: ↑monoplane flying fish, ↑two wing flying fish, ↑biplane flying fish, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • flying fish — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms flying fish : singular flying fish plural flying fish a fish that can move through the air by using its large fins as wings …   English dictionary

  • flying fish — /ˈflaɪɪŋ fɪʃ/ (say fluying fish) noun (plural flying fish or flying fishes) any of certain fishes with winglike pectoral fins which help them to glide for some distance through the air after leaping from the water, especially of the family… …  

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