Fun Facts About the Sailfish

What has a pointed bill, can swim up to 70 miles per hour, and is a ferocious hunter?

The Sailfish, of course!

Let’s “dive” into some fun facts about this fascinating fish.

Quick Facts:

  • Habitat: Parts of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceansWeight: Up to 220 pounds
  • Length: Up to 11 feet 
  • Diet: Other fish and squid
  • Lifespan: Up to 15 years

Sailfish Appearance

The Sailfish is a type of “billfish” like the marlin and swordfish. They are in this classification because of their long, sharp pointed bills. 

The Sailfish have a sword-like upper jaw twice as long as the similarly pointed lower jaw. This fast fish uses its bill to stab at and capture its favorite foods of squids and other fish. 

Another remarkable feature of the sailfish is on its back. It has a huge dorsal fin (called a “sail”) that can be larger than the length of the fish’s body. This remarkable sail is used to stabilise the fish when moving at top speeds, as well as to communicate.

They also have a second, smaller dorsal fin and two anal fins. 

Did you know the sailfish is blue-grey and considered the fastest fish in the ocean?

Fast Growers

Not only is the sailfish a fast swimmer, but it is also a fast grower. The sailfish starts as a tiny egg. It hatches from the egg within 36 hours of being laid and measures about 0.125 inches long. The sailfish then grows, grows, and grows, so much so that it reaches 5 feet within the first year of its life!

Did you know the female sailfish can lay around 4 million eggs in one spawning? 

Where They Live

Sailfish are saltwater fish living in warm and temperate ocean waters. Two main subspecies exist: the Atlantic species is found in Florida and the Indo-Pacific sailfish prefer waters ranging from 70 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit. They usually stick relatively close to the surface of the water. Though they mostly dwell far out in the ocean, sometimes they venture closer to shore.

What They Eat

Sailfish prey mostly on octopuses, squid, and bony fish. In the Atlantic, fish commonly eaten include tuna, mackerel, needlefish, jacks, and halfbeaks; in the Pacific, jacks, anchovies, sardines, triggerfish, and ribbonfish are dined on.

Sailfish Are Pack Hunters

Sailfish can hunt in packs of 100 members. During these hunts, the sail-like dorsal fins are used to herd the fish into a ball. Some of the hunters will change color to indicate when they’re going in for a kill. This prevents the sailfish from accidentally stabbing each other. 

Did you know that by balling up the fish, the sailfish can control the direction and density of the “shoal?” 

They Can Change Color!

Not only do they change color when they’re hunting, but the sailfish will also change color when it’s tired or excited.  These hues include copper/bronze, neon blue, and purplish tints on its skin – which is controlled by its nervous system.

What do you think about the sailfish? It’s pretty cool, right? Leave us your thoughts about this fascinating fish in the comment section. You can also listen to Professor Prossiant talk about the sailfish.

Categories: Fish

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