Resident of both sea an sky, the Flying Fish is often seen gliding above the water and maneuvering away from predators with ease.
The term “Flying Fish” is a broad nickname for the Exocoetidae family which contains over 40 different species of flying fish. These species can be seperated, roughly, into two different groups – a two wing and a four wing flying fish. Both groups have unevenly forked tails which help them taxi when preparing to fly, but the four-winged fish has a higher clearence capacity because of its increased wing area.
These fish have evolved to deal with both the water and air, in an attempt to escape the many predators they have beneath the surface. They can hold their breath for minutes at a time and can use their forked tail to break the water and gain speeds of about 37 mph underwater. They use this initial velocity to gain lift while taxing on the surface. As they begin to angle upward, they maintain open wings to take in maximum wind power and can, at times, gain four feet of clearance above the water. The fish can maintain a gliding angle for over 650 ft, but can quickly come down and taxi again to maintain consecutive “leaps” for over 1300 ft.
A video displays the flight and angling of a fish as it gains and regains flight:
Ranging between 14 and 46 cm, the flying fish has been astounding sailors and scientists for years. Its ability to hold its breath and use gliding powers is an amazing representation of arial locomotion.
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