Sunday, May 25, 2008


Many an animal might wish

That it could be a flying fish

Swimming, Swimming

Swiftly, Swiftly

Upon the water

Then up and away

Into the blue air.

We watch and wonder how

It ever got up there.

Birds watch, too, and remember

Their watery past.

Fish have become birds fast

That once were just fish.

I sometimes wonder if

Men were once dolphins

Who left the salty sea---

To become you and me---

Homo sapiens?

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 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.

Band-wing flyingfish Cheilopogon exsiliens, with large pectoral and pelvic fins
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.


Post a Comment

<< Home