2 Only Sailfish Species In The Ocean


Looking very similar to each other, there are only 2 sailfish species in the world. Sailfish is a very impressive marine fish with a large dorsal fin known as a sail that aids their swimming. They are one of the fastest fish in the ocean; swimming at the speed of 35 km/h. Sailfish are fascinating in so many ways, not only their stunning appearance but also their hunting methods. We are going to dive deeper into details about each sailfish species below, feel free to check them out.

1Atlantic Sailfish

An Atlantic sailfish is metallic blue in color with dark bluish-black on the upperparts and lighter on the sides. Along with that, there are around 20 bluish horizontal bars along its flanks while the underparts are silvery white. Its fins are bluish-black while the front dorsal fin is speckled with small black spots, and the tail fin is strongly forked. Their large dorsal fin looks like a sail; hence the name. Another cool part about them is that they are able to change colors thanks to their special nervous system. They can change from blue to black or stripes depending on their excitement, mood, and temperature to communicate. The

Atlantic sailfish can be as long as 3 meters, including their pointy bill-like snout.
Just like the same suggests, this sailfish species lives in the Atlantic Ocean and also the Caribbean Sea. They are the residents of temperate and tropical waters, swimming at a depth of around 200 meters. In those water realms, they hunt schools of fish such as anchovies, mackerel, sardines, and tuna as well as cephalopods and crustaceans. Anglers are fond of Atlantic sailfish for game fish because of their endurance and strength as well as speed. This sailfish species is more popular in recreational fishing while their meat has very little value in commercial fishery. That is because their meat is relatively tough and it is rarely sold unless smoked. However, they are still accidentally caught as bycatch, harpooning, set netting, and trolling.

2Indo-Pacific Sailfish

image: JW

An Indo-Pacific sailfish is dark blue on top, brown-blue laterally with many hues of gold, and silvery-white on the underbelly. Just like their sibling, they have a large dorsal fin and spear-like upper jaw aka bill that they use for hunting. The dorsal fin is cobalt blue or slate in color with a scattering of black spots. This one can also change its colors almost instantly to confuse its prey and signal its fellow sailfish. This sailfish can grow as long as 2.7 meters on average, and longer individuals can be up to 3.4 meters.

Here we have the sailfish species that is native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and that is how they got their name. These fish swim in temperate and tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans as well as Atlantic Oceans and the Mediterranean. Their habitats are between 0 and 40 meters in the open sea and near the coast. In their natural habitats, they feed on the same meals as the Atlantic sailfish. However, they also hunt other fish deeper in the oceans such as blue marlin, striped marlin, and swordfish. Despite being agile and strong, there are still predators which are great white sharks and killer whales.

Unfortunately, the Indo-Pacific sailfish also get caught in commercial fishing nets as bycatch. Because their meat is not as tasty, many dead sailfish are dumped back into the ocean.

Special Hunting Ability

Could be cool or cruel, both of the two sailfish species hunt their meals by balling their bait schools. One sailfish will work the surface by jumping anti-clockwise in a tight circle with its fins and sail folded. Then other members will circle below the surface at various levels with their dorsal and pelvic fins fully extended. The random free-jumping helps ball up the baitfish into tight masses while the circling of the members assists in rounding up the bait. After that, everyone will gently take their prey from the outside of the column of bait in their circling.

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