The sailboat is the fastest fish in the world, reaching speeds of 100 km/h. The record is fixed at the level of 109 km/h. The fish got its “ship” name because of the huge dorsal fin that looks like a sail. These fish are generally considered a prized sport fish, and their meat is often used to make sashimi and sushi in Japan. Although there is little concrete information available on the relationship between individuals, sailfish can “light up” their body colors through the activity of their chromatophores and use other visual cues (such as dorsal fin movements) during breeding.
View origin and description
The sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) is a large, open-ocean predator that grows in tropical and subtropical regions of most of the world. Previously, two species of sailboat were described, but both species are so similar that science increasingly recognizes only Istiophorus platypterus, and the previously recognized species Istiophorus albicans is considered to be derived from the first. Also, at the genetic level, no differences between the DNA have been found to justify the division into two species.
The sailboat belongs to the Istiophoridae family, which also includes marlins and spearmen. They are distinct from the swordfish, which has a flattened, sharp-edged sword and no ventral fins. It is rare in Russia, mainly near the South Kuriles and in Peter the Great Bay. Sometimes it enters the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal, the fish travels further through the Bosphorus to the Black Sea.
Marine biologists suggest that the “sail” (an array of dorsal fins) may serve as part of the fish's cooling or heating system. This is due to the network of large number of blood vessels found in the sail, as well as due to the behavior of the fish, which “raises the sails” only in or near surface waters after or before high-speed swims.
Appearance and Features
Large specimens of the sailboat reach a length of 340 cm and weigh up to 100 kg. Their spindle-shaped body is long, compressed and remarkably streamlined. Individuals are dark blue on top, with a mixture of brown, light blue on the sides, and silvery white on the ventral side. This species is easily distinguished from other marine fish by the approximately 20 bands of light blue dots along their lateral sides. The head bears an elongated mouth and jaws filled with serrated teeth.
The massive first dorsal fin resembles a sail, with 42 to 49 rays, with a much smaller second dorsal fin, with 6-7 rays. The pectoral fins are rigid, long and irregularly shaped with 18-20 rays. The pelvic fins are up to 10 cm long. The size of the scales decreases with age. The sailboat grows quite quickly, reaching 1.2–1.5 m in length within one year.
Interesting fact: Sailing fish were previously thought to reach a maximum swimming speed of 35 m/s (130 km/h), but studies published in 2015 and 2016 show that sailfish do not exceed speeds between 10–15 m/s.
During the predator-prey interaction, the sailboat reached a surge speed of 7 m/s (25 km/h) and did not exceed 10 m/s (36 km/h). As a rule, sailboats do not reach a length of more than 3 m and rarely weigh more than 90 kg. The sword-like elongated mouth, unlike the swordfish, is round in cross section. Gill rays are absent. The sailfish uses its powerful mouth to catch fish by performing horizontal strikes or lightly bumping and disorienting individual fish.
Now you know what speed the sailboat develops. Let's see where this amazing fish lives.
Where does the sailboat live?
The sailfish is found in both temperate and tropical waters of the oceans. These fish usually have a tropical distribution and are especially numerous near the equatorial regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans from 45° to 50° N. latitude. in the western part of the northern part of the Pacific Ocean and from 35 ° to 40 ° N.l. in the eastern North Pacific.
In the western and eastern Indian Ocean, sailboats in the Indo-Pacific range between 45°S and 35°S. respectively. This species is mainly found in the coastal regions of these latitudes, but can also be found in the central regions of the oceans.
Fun fact: Sailboats also live in the Red Sea and migrate through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean. The Atlantic and Pacific populations have contact only on the coast of South Africa, where they can mix.
Sailboat — epipelagic marine fish, spending most of its adult life from the surface to a depth of 200 meters. Although they spend most of their time at the surface of the ocean, they sometimes dive into deeper waters where temperatures can reach as low as 8°C, although the preferred water temperature at which the fish feel normal ranges from 25° to 30°C. The sailboat migrates annually to higher latitudes, and in autumn to the equator. Older individuals usually live in the easternmost regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
What does the sailboat eat?
The sailfish develops great speed, its dorsal fins are folded halfway in pursuit of prey. When sailboats attack a school of fish, they fully fold their fin, reaching an attack speed of 110 km/h. Once they get close to their prey, they quickly turn their sharp snout and strike the prey, stunning or killing it. The sailboat either hunts alone or in small groups. The specific species eaten by the sailboat fish depend on the spatio-temporal distribution of their prey populations. The remains of cephalopods and fish jaws found in their stomachs suggest rapid digestion of soft muscles.
Typical products for sailboats are:
- sardine ;
- small pelagic fish;
- rooster fish;
- sea bream;
- giant trevally ;
Underwater sightings show that sailboats fly at full speed into schools of fish, then brake in a sharp curve and kill fish within reach with swift sword strikes, then swallow them up. Often several individuals exhibit team behavior and work together to hunt. They also form feeding communities with other marine predators such as dolphins, sharks, tuna and mackerel.
Fun fact: Small fanfish larvae feed primarily on copepods, but with increasing size, the diet switches very quickly to larvae and very small fish only a few millimeters long.
The damage inflicted by sailing fish on prey reduces their swimming speed, with injured fish being more common at the back of the school than undamaged ones. When a sailboat approaches a school of sardines, the sardines usually turn around and swim in the opposite direction. As a result, the sailing fish attacks the flock of sardines from behind, endangering those fish that are in the rear.
Character and lifestyle features
Spend most of of their time in the upper 10 m of the water column, sailboats very rarely dive to a depth of 350 m in search of food. They — opportunistic eaters and eat at every opportunity. As migratory animals, fish prefer to follow ocean currents with surface seawater that hovered above 28°C.
Fun Fact: Sailing ships from the Indo-Pacific region, tagged with pop-up satellite archival tags, have been tracked traveling over 3,600 km to spawn or forage. Individuals swim in dense shoals structured in size like juveniles and join small groups like adults. Sometimes sailboats sail alone. This suggests that Indo-Pacific sailfish feed in groups according to their size.
Sailfish swim away both for long walks and often stay near the coast or near the islands. They hunt in groups of up to 70 animals. Only every fifth attack results in a successful loot. Over time, more and more fish are injured, making them easier to catch.
The sail fin is usually kept folded while swimming and is only raised when the fish is attacking its prey. An upraised sail reduces the lateral movement of the head, which probably makes the elongated mouth less visible to the fish. This strategy allows sailing fish to position their mouths close to, or even thrust into, schools of fish without being seen by prey before hitting it.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Sailboats breed all year round. Females extend their dorsal fin to attract potential mates. Males conduct competitive races competing for females, which end in spawning for the victorious male. During spawning in the Western Pacific Ocean, a sailfish over 162 cm long migrates from the East China Sea towards southern Australia to spawn. It appears that sailboats off the coast of Mexico are following the 28° C isotherm to the south.
In the Indian Ocean, there is a high correlation with the distribution of these fish and the months of the northeast monsoon when the waters reach an ideal temperature of over 27°C. at higher latitudes. During this time, these fish can spawn several times. The fecundity of females is estimated at 0.8 million to 1.6 million eggs.
Interesting fact: The maximum lifespan of a sailboat is 13 to 15 years, but the average age of catch specimens is 4 to 5 years.
Mature eggs are translucent and have a diameter of about 0.85 mm. Eggs contain a small ball of oil that provides nourishment to the developing fetus. Although the rate of larval growth is affected by season, water conditions, and food availability, newly hatched larvae typically average 1.96 mm chord length, increasing to 2.8 mm after 3 days and to 15.2 mm after 18 days. days. The young grow exponentially during the first year, with females tending to grow faster than males and reach sexual maturity faster. After the first year, growth slows down.
Natural enemies of sailboats
Sailboat &# 8212; the pinnacle of predation, so predation on free-swimming individuals of the species is very rare. They significantly affect the prey population in the open ocean ecosystem. In addition, fish serve as hosts for various parasites.
Most sailboats are attacked by:
- sharks (Selachii);
- killer whales (Orcinus orca);
- white shark (C. Charcharias);
- humans (Homo sapiens).
It is a commercial fish that is also caught as by-catch in the global tuna fishery. Fish are caught by chance by commercial fishermen with drift nets, trolling, harpoon and netting. The sailboat is most important as a sport fish. The flesh is dark red and not as good as blue marlin. Sport fishing can be a potential threat locally, especially as the species is found close to the coast and around the islands.
The world's highest catch rates for sailfish occur in the Eastern Pacific off Central America, where the species supports multi-million dollar sport fisheries (catch and release). In the national longline fishery in Costa Rica, many species of fish are discarded as the fishery is only allowed to bring in 15% of its catch as sailboats, so the catch is likely to be underestimated. Recent Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) data from fisheries in Central America have raised concerns.
In the Atlantic Ocean, the species is captured mainly in longline fisheries, as well as some artisanal gear, which are the only marlin fisheries, and various sport fisheries located on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The growing use of anchor aggregating devices (FAD) for various artisanal and sporting activities increases the vulnerability of these stocks. Many assessment models indicate overfishing, especially in the eastern Atlantic rather than the western Atlantic.
Population and species status
Although the sailfish fishery was not previously listed as endangered, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission considers this fishery data-poor due to the increased fishing pressure experienced by the species there. This highly migratory species is listed on Appendix I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea
The number of the sailboat is distributed over the oceans. The Atlantic Ocean has two sailboat reserves, one in the western Atlantic and one in the eastern Atlantic. There is considerable uncertainty about the status of Atlantic sailfish stocks, but most models provide evidence of overfishing, more in the east than in the west.
Eastern Pacific. Catches have been fairly stable over the last 10–25 years. There are some signs of localized decline. The total number of sailboats is 80% below the 1964 level in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama. The size of trophy fish is 35% smaller than before. Western Central Pacific. Sailing fish data are not normally recorded, but there is probably no significant decline.
Indian Ocean. The catch of sailboats is sometimes combined with other types of fish. Information on marvin and sailfish populations for the entire Pacific is not available, except for FAO statistics, which are not informative as the species are presented as a mixed group. There have been reports of a decline in the number of sailboats in India and Iran.
The sailboat is a very beautiful fish that is an attractive trophy for deep sea anglers. Its meat is widely used, sashimi and sushi are prepared from it. Off the coast of the USA, Cuba, Hawaii, Tahiti, Australia, Peru, New Zealand, a sailboat is often caught on spinning. Ernest Hemingway was an enthusiast for such a pastime. In Havana, an annual fishing competition is held in memory of Hemingway. In the Seychelles, catching sailboats is one of the most popular pastimes for tourists.