Exocetidae (Flying Fish)
Geographic RangeMembers of the Exocoetidae family are located in the warm waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.
Food HabitsMembers of the Exocoetidae family can be herbivorous or carnivorous. Some Flying Fish feed on various small fish, crustaceans, and zooplankton.
ReproductionFlying Fish spawn in the open ocean around floating weeds and debris. Round eggs are generally equipped with tufts of long filaments that help to anchor the eggs in seaweeds.
BehaviorExocoetidae are fast-swimming fish that utilize their powerful tail and pectoral fins to fly for distances of 41 to 183 meters across the water surface. The decision for flight is believed to be in response to pursuit by other fishes. The tail is used to jump out of the water when enough speed is gathered, and the pectoral fins enable the fish to glide across the surface. Flying Fish can obtain a maximum altitude of 11m (36ft) and can reach a velocity of up to 30 mi/48 km per hour in flight. Exocoetidae usually will swim and glide in schools.
HabitatMost Flying Fish are found in the tropical or subtropical waters of seas, but sometimes, certain species range further north. Members of the Exocoetidae family are surface-dwellers that inhabit warm, open waters.
Conservation/BiodiversityWithin the family Exocoetidae, there are 8 genera containing 52 species of Flying Fish spread throughout the waters of the world. The most common Flying Fish, Exocoetus volitans, is found in the Atlantic Ocean. Other species include the Great Flying Fish off of California, classified as Cypselurus californicus, and the Sharpshin Flying Fish found off the waters of Central America and classified as Fodiator acutus.
Economic Benefits for Humans
PositiveFlying Fish are served in a variety of different manners as a popular food for many people. They have a pleasant, savory flavor and a firm texture. Flying Fish can also be used as rigged trolling bait for marlins, dolphin, and other big-game fish.
NegativeIt is possible for Flying Fish to leap far enough out of the water and strike unsuspecting boaters, thus resulting in possible injury.
CommentsFor protection against predation during the early stages their lives, the young of many species of Flying Fishes resemble blossoms of the plant Baringtonia. The young have long filaments that hang from their lower jaws, and are later lost at maturity. Aside from this, while in flight, Flying Fish serve as prey for certain species of birds. They also serve as food for sharks, tuna, porpoises, bluefish, marlin, and dolphins.
References and Links
|Entry Author:||Richard Misiaszek||Union College||2003|