Atlantic Ocean: Flying Fish

Sailing through the warm equatorial water north of Ascension, we were treated to many sighting of flight fish, leaping from the water and literally flying along or away from the vessel. Flying fish are not flying per se, but rather propelling themselves out of the water with powerful oversized fins. Flying fish glide above the water’s surface by rapidly beating their pectoral fins. The behavior is primarily used to escape from the underwater predators like tuna and swordfish, however above water the flying fish becomes food for seabirds like frigatebirds who almost exclusively feed on them. White there are 64 species of flying fish globally, the three most common species of the warm Atlantic Ocean’s equatorial waters are: Atlantic flying fish (Exocoetus volitans) with distinctive metallic blue-green coloration and lengths of up to 30 cm (12 inches), Atlantic sailfin flying fish (Cheilopogon cyanopterus) with silver/blue coloration and known for its large, sail-like pectoral fins and lengths of about 20 cm (8 inches), and Swallowtail flying fish (Hirundichthys affinis with elongated pectoral fins and a distinct black band on its fin reaching up to about 25 cm (10 inches) in length.