Most sources believe that the fastest species of fish is the Sailfish, Istiophorus platypterus. A fairly compressed body with a long bill and jaws with file-like teeth. It is dark blue above, brownish laterally and silvery below. There are about twenty bars on sides of the body that are made up of bright blue spots. In the early s it was believed that there were many species of sailfishes. Most authorities now agree that there is a single worldwide species however others believe that there is a different species Istiophorus albicans in the Atlantic.
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The sailfish is one of the faster of the marine creatures, and one of the more popular in recreational fishing, despite the meat being of little value. This highly recognizable fish can grow to be over 10 feet long, including its elongated bill and its forked caudal fin.
Its large first dorsal fin is usually taller than its body is and runs most of the length of its body. It is blue on top and white below, with rows of light blue dots, and its color can vary based on its excitement level. English language common names include Atlantic sailfish, billfish, Indo-Pacific sailfish, ocean gar, ocean guard, Pacific sailfish, and sailfish. In the Atlantic, sailfish has little value as a commercial fishery, with the meat being relatively tough and rarely sold unless smoked.
However, the sailfish is highly sought after by recreational fishermen. Atlantic sailfish are usually hooked by trolling, with either whole mullet or ballyhoo as bait.
In the Indo-Pacific, sailfish are taken as bycatch by commercial tuna longliners. They are also caught with driftnets, harpoons, and by trolling by commercial fishers. The National Marine Fisheries Service manages the sailfish under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to insure the long-term sustainability of fishery stocks. Currently all U. Recreational fishers must obtain a permit from NOAA fisheries for fishing in federal waters and state regulations may also apply.
The minimum size limit for sailfish of 63 inches cm lower jaw fork length applies shoreward of the outer boundary of the U.
Exclusive Economic Zone. The IUCN is a global union of states, governmental agencies, and non-governmental organizations in a partnership that assesses the conservation status of species.
It has been taken in the Mediterranean Sea, although few records exist for this region. In this region, distribution is apparently influenced by wind conditions as well as water temperature. In the northern and southern extremes of the its distribution, sailfish appear during warm seasons.
These seasonal changes in distribution may be directly linked to prey movement. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, there is an aggregation off the coast of West Africa. In the Pacific Ocean, the sailfish is widely distributed in temperate and tropical regions. The Atlantic sailfish swims in the surface epipelagic and oceanic waters. There is evidence that it also swims into deeper water.
It is less oceanic than other billfishes, making frequent forays into nearshore water. Distinctive Features The upper jaw is modified into a long bill which is circular in cross section. This upper jaw is approximately twice the length of the lower jaw.
Two dorsal and anal fins are present. The first dorsal fin is large, much taller than the width of the body. This large fin runs most of the length of the body, with the longest ray being the 20th. The first anal fin is set far back on the body. Second dorsal and anal fins approximately mirror one another in size and shape.
Both are short and concave. The pectoral and pelvic fins are long with the pelvic fins almost twice as long and nearly reaching the origin of the first anal fin. The pelvic fins have one spine and multiple soft rays fused together. A pair of grooves run along the ventral side of the body, into which the pelvic fins can be depressed. The caudal peduncle has double keels and caudal notchs on the upper and lower surfaces.
The lateral line is readily visible. Coloration Body color is variable depending upon level of excitement. The body is dark blue dorsally and white with brown spots ventrally.
About 20 bars, each consisting of many light blue dots, are present on each side. The fins are all generally blackish blue. The anal fin base is white. The first dorsal fin contains many small black dots, which are more common towards the anterior end of the fin. Size, Age, and Growth The sailfish is one of the smaller members of the family Istiophoridae. The maximum size for the sailfish from the Atlantic region is inches cm total length and around pounds kg.
In southern Florida, the fish tend to be smaller, generally between inches cm total length. Commercial longline vessels in the Atlantic generally catch fish of inches cm in length. The largest fish are usually females. In waters of the Pacific Ocean, the maximum size for the sailfish is recorded at inches cm total length and around pounds kg in weight. Food Habits Cephalopods squid and octopus and bony fishes are the primary prey items of the sailfish in the Atlantic Ocean.
Mackerels, tunas, jacks, halfbeaks, and needlefish are the most commonly taken fishes. These prey items indicate that some feeding occurs at the surface, as well as in midwater, along reef edges, or along the bottom substrate.
Sailfish in the Pacific region feed on fishes and cephalopods including squid. Fishes consumed include sardines, achovies, jacks, dolphin, ribbonfish and triggerfish. Reproduction In the western North Atlantic Ocean, spawning may begin as early as April, but occurs primarily during the summer months. Females swim slowly through shallow water, with their dorsal fin above the water surface. One or more males will accompany her and spawn near the surface. Spawning may also occur in deep waters along the coast of North America and over the continental shelf off the West African coast.
Spawning has been observed year-round in the eastern Atlantic, with a peak in the summer months. A large female may release 4,, eggs while spawning. Atlantic sailfish are approximately 0. Larval sailfish lack the jaw characteristic of the adults. The head contains many spines: one above the eye, on the lower operculum, and smaller one located between these.
At 8 inches 20 cm , all larval characteristics have disappeared and the juvenile has all the features of an adult. During the first year of life, young fish can often be observed off the coast of Florida. At six months, a juvenile may weight 6 lbs 2. Upon reaching this size, growth rate decreases.
In the waters of the Pacific Ocean, sailfish appear to spawn in tropical and subtropical regions, with localized peaks during summer months. The males and females swim in pairs or two to three males pursue a female during spawning. Predators Dolphinfish and other large predatory fishes as well as seabirds feed on the sailfish.
Parasites A total of 34 parasitic species have been recorded from the sailfish, including the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean range of sailfish. Parasites include protozoans, digenea flukes , didymozoidea tissue flukes , monogenea gillworms , cestoda tapeworms , nematoda roundworms , acanthocephala spiny-headed worms , copepods, barnacles, and isopods.
Shaw and Nodder first described the Atlantic sailfish in and assigned it the species name Xiphias platypterus. Some scientists believe that the Atlantic and Pacific sailfishes are separate species and apply the name I. Other names that have been used for this species include Histiophorus americanus , H. More Info. Discover Fishes Istiophorus platypterus. Sailfish Sailfish. Order: Perciformes Family: Istiophoridae Genus: Istiophorus Species: platypterus Common Names English language common names include Atlantic sailfish, billfish, Indo-Pacific sailfish, ocean gar, ocean guard, Pacific sailfish, and sailfish.
Importance to Humans Sailfish. Photo courtesy NOAA In the Atlantic, sailfish has little value as a commercial fishery, with the meat being relatively tough and rarely sold unless smoked. Conservation Status The National Marine Fisheries Service manages the sailfish under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to insure the long-term sustainability of fishery stocks. Habitat The Atlantic sailfish swims in the surface epipelagic and oceanic waters.
Biology Sailfish. Sailfish juvenile. Sailfish feed on a variety of fish including the needlefish pictured above. Sailfish larvae. Sailfish catch size limit in federal waters is a lower jaw fork length LJFL of 63 inches cm.
Taxonomy Shaw and Nodder first described the Atlantic sailfish in and assigned it the species name Xiphias platypterus.
Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory
Indo-Pacific sailfish Istiophorus platypterus can be found in both temperate and tropical waters throughout the world's oceans. This species is essentially found along the coastal regions of these latitudes, but can also be found in the central regions of these oceans. Nakamura, ; Prince, et al. Indo-Pacific sailfish are epipelagic marine fish that spend most of their adult life between the mixed layer near the surface and the thermocline.
More on author: Shaw. Short description Morphology Morphometrics Dorsal spines total : 0; Dorsal soft rays total : ; Anal spines : 2; Anal soft rays : 12 - This species is distinguished by the following characters: slender elongate and fairly compressed with a high, sail-like first dorsal fin; upper jaw prolonged into a very long beak, slender and round in cross-section; jaws and palatines with villiform teeth; no gill rakers; two dorsal fins, the first very large rays the second small rays ; pectoral fins rays; pelvic fins I, 2 soft rays fused together, very long and narrow, depressible into a groove; caudal peduncle with double keels on each side; body covered with small, embedded scales with 1 or 2 blunt points. Colour of back dark with about 20 bluish vertical bars; belly pale silver; membrane of first dorsal fin blue- black with numerous dark spots; bases of first and second anal fins often tinged with silvery white; remaining fins blackish brown or dark blue Ref.
The Indo-Pacific sailfish Istiophorus platypterus is a sailfish native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans , as well naturalized in the Atlantic. They have a large and sharp bill, which they use for hunting. They feed on tuna and mackerel, some of the fastest fish in the Ocean. Some authorities only recognise a single species of sailfish, I. It is theorized by marine biologists that the 'sail' dorsal fin array of the sailfish may serve the purpose of a cooling and heating system for this fish; this due to a network of a large number of blood vessels found in the sail and because of "sail-raising" behaviour exhibited by the sailfish at or near the surface waters after or before high-speed bursts. Common and widespread in the tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans, ranging into temperate waters. Although targeted in some areas, the species is mostly taken as bycatch by tuna longliners.