Fish and other aquatic creatures

Marine Flying Fish


Many animals would love to trade their own tail for wings. Why are there animals! We, people from time immemorial, strove into the sky, thanks to which we have hang-gliders, airplanes and other aircraft. But the wings, alas, have not grown. But who would have thought that advanced humanity would deftly fish? The flying silver dweller of the depths of the sea has always made an indelible impression on homo sapiens. It was she who became the prototype of a toy flying fish, which in a matter of months turned into an incredibly popular fun for children and adults. Flying fish (air swimmers) - what is it really?

Wing fins

Here it is - the winged muse from under the water, inspired inventors to create aircraft. A fish that flies over the waves like a bird is called Exocoetidae in Latin (or a two-winged or flying fish in Russian) and belongs to the Sarganoid order, which has as many as 52 species.

The appearance, in particular the vehicle of the representative of the underwater depths, is amazing. This unusual fish from the head to the tip of the tail has a length of 15-25 centimeters, the largest individuals sometimes reach half a meter. Its elongated body has wide, well developed, rather strong and rigid pectoral fins, which are very similar to sweeping wings. In some individuals, each flight fin is forked - such fish are called four-winged ones.

A fish flying over the sea has a giant air bubble that can hold up to 44 cubic centimeters of air! He, along with his wings, helps the sea dweller to fly and soar.

Dovinka of the subtropics

Fish, hovering above the water surface, like birds, lives exclusively in the tropics and subtropics. This species does not tolerate the temperature of the habitat below +20 ° C. Their place of residence is the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, as well as the Red and Mediterranean seas. The largest cluster of flying beauties is observed in the Caribbean, near Barbadoss.

Flying fish (photos of which can often be found in glossy tourist publications), leads to indescribable delight of both travelers and indigenous people, who every time in admiration stop at the sight of soaring representatives of this fish family.

Features of the diet

Winged fish flying over the sea in complete solitude is a rare phenomenon: this species always keeps in flocks, sometimes grouped into large shoals. Often they surround the passing ships in a dense ring. These peaceful flyers are absolutely not aggressive - rather, they themselves are food for predators. The diet of volatile fish consists of plankton, small crustaceans, bottom microorganisms and mollusks.

For whom is flying fish a delicacy? The shark, the large squids, the birds, and the man all love the tender, tasty meat of the winged wonders. And caviar, called "tobiko", is widely used in the preparation of Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Flying fish is a valuable commercial product, but so far there is no threat to their quantity in the oceans due to its excellent fertility. Each individual is able to lay off up to 24 thousand eggs.

Water as a runway

Flying fish hover over the water is not for fun, but fleeing from imminent danger in the form of predators. How does this happen? Under water in a flying fish, the fins-wings are tightly pressed to the body. Before taking off, it speeds up the tail movement many times (up to 70 times per second!), Accelerating to a speed of 55-60 kilometers per hour. Then the fish flies up to a height of 1.5-5 meters, straightening the pectoral fins. Flight range is small and can vary from 1.5 to 5 meters! Interestingly, in the air, sea flyers do not know how to control the flight, in connection with which they often crash into ships or crumble onto the deck with fish rain.

Flight duration can reach 45 seconds, but this is rare. On average, flight of flying fish lasts 10 seconds.

The fish takes off not only to avoid marine predators, but also to the light. This weakness is used by fishermen: it is enough to light the lantern above the boat, and the lover of light will jump into the trap itself. The flyer cannot return back to the sea, because there is no water to disperse the tail.


Despite the fact that there are plenty of winged fish hunters, the population is not in danger. As we have already mentioned, each female is able to set aside up to 24 thousand eggs for one spawning. They are painted in bright orange color, the diameter of each ranges from 0.5-0.8 mm. Where does flying fish lay eggs? Photos taken by many people show that this fish is not very picky when choosing a "house" for future offspring. Caviar is attached to everything that literally falls under the fin - to the garbage, algae, feathers of birds, branches and even coconuts brought into the sea from land.

Fry of flying fish eat plankton, which is collected near the surface of the sea. The appearance of the kids differ from adult winged individuals - their colors are bright and colorful.

What is remarkable about the appearance of these flying fish?

In general, at first glance, it is absolutely nothing. Looking at the flying fish, it is not possible to detect any devices for “flight” ... until this creature straightens its side fins, which instantly turn into two fan-shaped “wings”. With the help of them fish and "soars" above the water surface.

The body of a flying fish is painted in a silver-blue shade. The abdominal part of the body is usually lighter than the back. The side (“flying”) fins have a blue or greenish color, sometimes supplemented with “decorations” in the form of small specks or stripes. The body length of the fish ranges from 15 to 40 centimeters.

Where does a flying fish live?

These aquatic inhabitants are quite thermophilic creatures. Therefore, they can only be found in the marine zones of the tropics or subtropics. The optimum temperature for them is approximately 20 degrees above zero.

The habitat of marine flying fish is the zone of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. They settle in the waters of the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Peter the Great Bay (south of Primorsky Krai), the English Channel.

Marine flying fish lifestyle

The behavior and lifestyle of these fish is quite diverse: some prefer to keep the coastline and shallow water all the time of their existence, while other representatives of this species choose the open ocean, sailing closer to the coast only for spawning. Flying fish live in small groups - flocks. When the light gets to the water at night - these fish are already there, “crowding” around it, and therefore can be easy prey.

Perhaps the most remarkable in the behavior of these aquatic creatures is their “flight”. What is this spectacle, as it happens?

Directly under the surface of the water, the fish 70 times makes very fast movements with its tail, as if picking up speed. Then it “jumps” out of the water and, having straightened its fins, “wings”, flies through the air. So she can “fly” almost half a kilometer, and her jumps sometimes reach more than one meter in height. But still, a flying fish sometimes hits the surface of the water with its tail, as if pushing from it, and flies farther. It should be noted one feature of the flight: the fish does not control it, does not pursue any given direction, therefore, there are cases when as a result of such “flying jumps” flying fish are thrown onto the decks of sea-going ships.

Flying fish diet

Plankton, various mollusks and larvae of other fish serve as food for these small fish.

What is the breeding process of flying fish, how is it going?

When the spawning period comes, volatile fish begin to swim in circles, in places where algae grow. This is the "display" of eggs and milk. During this process, it is possible to observe the staining of water in a greenish tint.

Eggs of flying fish are orange in color, their average size is 0.5-0.8 millimeters. Flying fishes attach their future “cubs” to leaves of underwater plants, floating garbage, floating feathers of birds. Thus, the eggs spread over fairly long distances.

Many super fast boats are very similar in aerodynamic properties to flying fish.

Is flying fish of interest to humans?

People use this fish in cooking, especially in Japanese and Indian cuisines. Flying fish caviar, which in Japanese cuisine is called “tobiko”, is very popular. It is added to the famous sushi and rolls.

Want to know everything

Many inhabitants of the underwater world jump out of the water to escape from predators, or in pursuit of small insects. And those who have this skill developed to perfection, sailors call flying fish. This is the name of the most diverse, unrelated fish among themselves, although there is also a special family - flying fish. Representatives of this family live in the tropical zones of the seas and oceans.

In the most capable aviators, the flight lasts up to a minute (although most of them only take 2-3 seconds), during which time they fly up to 400 m. When taking off, the fish's tail acts like a small outboard motor, making 60- 70 strokes per second . At the time of takeoff, the speed of the fish increases to 18 meters per second! And now the fish comes off the water surface, rises to a height of 5-6 m, spreads the "wings" (pectoral fins), reaching half a meter in scope, and gradually descends, planning on them. The headwind helps the fish to fly, and the passing wind prevents. If she wants to restore the fading speed, she plunges into the water a strenuously working tail fin and soars up again.

The impression of a flock of thousands of flying fish that rose into the air makes a strong impression. Here is how Mine Reed wrote in the novel Lost in the Ocean: “What a fascinating sight! No one can stop looking at them: neither the old “sea wolf”, who is watching him, must be a thousandth time, nor the young man, who saw him for the first time in his life. ” Further, the writer noted: “It seems that there is no creature in the world who has so many enemies as flying fish. After all, she rises into the air in order to escape from her many pursuers in the ocean. But this is called "to get out of the frying pan into the fire." Escaping from the mouth of her permanent enemies - dolphins, tuna and other tyrants of the ocean, she falls into the beak to the albatrosses, fools and other tyrants of the air. ”

Almost all flying fish have a flight plan. The real fluttering flight is only in freshwater fish from the family of wicked-bellied animals living in South America. They do not soar, but fly like birds. Their length is up to 10 cm. In case of danger, the clinch-bark pops out of the water and, with a loud buzz, flapping the pectoral fins, fly up to 5 m. The weight of the muscles that drive the “wings” is about 1/4 of the total weight of the fish.

Unlike a flying bird or an insect, a flying fish cannot change its flight direction when it is in the air. This has long been used by man, and in many countries flying fish are caught in flight. In Oceania, they are caught with nets on three-meter poles.

In the old days, the mullet (which, like flying fish, can jump out of the water) in the Mediterranean Sea was caught by building a ring of reed rafts around its shoals. Then the boat came into the center of the ring, and the fishermen in it were making an incredible noise. The fact is that the mullet seeks to overcome obstacles on the surface of the water, not by ducking under them, but by jumping over. But jumping mullet short. Alarmed by the noise of the fish jump out of the water and, failing to jump the rafts, fall on them.

In flying fish, the jaws are short, and the pectoral fins reach large sizes, commensurate with the length of the body. Nevertheless, they are very close to the half-clans, from whose ancestors they originate. This proximity is manifested, in particular, in the fact that the fry of some species (for example, the long-nosed flying fish - Fodiator acutus) have an elongated lower jaw and are quite similar in appearance to the half-lips. It can be said that such fish go through the “half-half stage” in individual development.

Representatives of this family do not reach large sizes. The largest species - the giant flying fish Cheilopogon pennatibarbatus - can be about 50 cm long, and the smallest ones do not exceed 15 cm. The color of flying fish is quite typical for the inhabitants of the surface layer of the open sea: their back is dark blue and the lower part is silver. . The color of the pectoral fins is very diverse, which can be either monochromatic (transparent, blue, green or brown), or variegated (spotty or striped).

Flying fish inhabit the waters of all warm seas, representing a characteristic element of the geographical landscape of the tropical ocean. This family has more than 60 species, united in seven genera. The fauna of flying fish in the Indo-Western Pacific Region is particularly diverse, with more than 40 species belonging to this family. In the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean, about 20 species of flying fish have been found, and 16 species in the Atlantic Ocean.

The area of ​​distribution of volatile fish, roughly speaking, is limited to waters having a temperature above 20 ° C. Yet most species are found only in the warmest areas of the oceans when the water temperature is more than 23 ° C. For the periphery of the tropical zone exposed to winter cooling, only a few species of subtropical flying fish are characteristic, sometimes even at 16-18 ° C. In the warm season, isolated individuals of flying fish enter occasionally in areas remote from the tropics. They are marked off the coast of Europe to the English Channel and even to southern Norway and Denmark, and in the Russian Far Eastern waters they come across in the Peter the Great Bay, where they caught Japanese flying fish several times (Cheilopogon doederleinii).

The most characteristic feature of flying fish is their ability to fly, which has developed, obviously, as an adaptation for rescuing from predators. This ability is expressed in different kinds in varying degrees. The flight of such species of flying fish, which have relatively short pectoral fins (the long-batt Fodiator belongs among them), is less perfect than in species with long “wings”. In this case, the evolution of flight within the family occurred, obviously, in two directions. One of them led to the formation of two-winged flying fish, using only pectoral fins during flight, which reach very large sizes. A typical representative of the "Diptera" flying fish, sometimes compared with monoplanes, is the common Diptera (Exocoetus volitans).

Another direction is represented by “four-winged” flying fish (4 genera and about 50 species), which are likened to biplane airplanes. The flight of these fish is carried out with the help of two pairs of bearing planes, since they have not only enlarged the pectoral, but also the abdominal fins, and at the fry developmental stages both those fins have approximately the same area. Both directions in the evolution of flight led to the formation of forms that are well adapted to life in the surface layers of the ocean. At the same time, apart from the development of “wings”, adaptation to flight was reflected in flying fish in the structure of the caudal fin, whose rays are rigidly interconnected and the lower blade is very large compared to the upper, in the unusual development of a huge swim bladder continuing under the spine to the very tail , and in other features.

The flight of "four-winged" flying fish reaches the greatest range and duration. Having developed a significant speed in the water, such a fish jumps out onto the sea surface and slides along it with straightened pectoral fins for some time (vigorously) with a long lower lobe of the caudal fin immersed in water. While still in the water, the flying fish reaches a speed of about 30 km / h, and on the surface it increases it to 60-65 km / h. Then the fish breaks away from the water and, opening the pelvic fins, plans above its surface.

In some cases, when flying, flying fish sometimes touches the water with their tails and, while vibrating them, receives additional acceleration. The number of such touches can reach three or four, and in this case the duration of the flight naturally increases. Usually a flying fish is in flight no more than 10 s and flies several tens of meters during this time, but sometimes the flight time increases to 30 s, and its range reaches 200 or even 400 m. Apparently, the flight duration to some degree depends on atmospheric conditions, as in the presence of weak wind or ascending currents of air volatile fish fly long distances and are longer in flight.

Many sailors and travelers who watched flying fish from the deck of a ship claimed that they "clearly saw that a fish flaps its wings in the same way a dragonfly or a bird does." In reality, the “wings” of flying fish during flight retain a completely motionless state and do not make any sweeps or vibrations. Лишь угол наклона плавников может, по-видимому, меняться, и это позволяет рыбе несколько изменять направление полета. То дрожание плавников, которое отмечают очевидцы, представляет собой не причину полета, а его следствие. Оно объясняется непроизвольной вибрацией расправленных плавников, особенно сильной в те мгновения, когда рыба, уже находящаяся в воздухе, еще продолжает работать в воде своим хвостовым плавником.

Flying fish are usually kept in small flocks, which usually contain up to a dozen individuals. These schools are made up of similarly sized fish belonging to the same species. Individual flocks are often grouped into larger shoals, and in the most feeding areas, sometimes significant concentrations of volatile fish are formed, consisting of many shoals.

For volatile fish (as for other sarganoids), a positive reaction to light is extremely characteristic. At night, flying fish is attracted by sources of artificial lighting (for example, ship lights, as well as special illuminators used to attract fish). They usually fly up to the light source above the water, often hitting the ship’s side, or slowly swim up to the lamp with straightened pectoral fins.

All volatile fish feed on planktonic animals living in the surface layer, mainly small crustaceans and wing-legged mollusks, as well as fish larvae. At the same time, volatile fish themselves serve as important food for many predatory fish in the tropical ocean (coryphen, tuna, etc.), as well as squid and seabirds.

The species composition of volatile fish differs markedly in coastal and offshore areas. There are species that are found only in close proximity to the coast, others may go out into the open ocean, but return to the coastal zone for reproduction, and still others constantly inhabit the ocean expanses. The main reason for this separation is the different requirements for spawning conditions. Species that breed near shores lay their eggs, equipped with sticky filamentous appendages, on the algae attached to the bottom or floating near the surface. Off the coast of Kyushu, for example, spawning Japanese flying fish occurs in early summer. At this time, large shoals of volatile fish approach the shore in evenings in places where there are algae thickets, and gather at night near the bottom at a depth of about 10 m. milt. In this case, the water is painted in a greenish-milky color for several tens of meters.

Ocean volatile fish usually use as a spawning substrate the small amount of floating material that is always present in the sea: various “fin” of coastal origin (drifting algae, branches and fruits of land plants, coconuts), feathers of birds and even siphonophore-sailboats (Velella ) living on the surface of the water. Only Diptera (Exocoetus genus) have floating eggs that have lost trailed filamentous outgrowths.

Flying fish have tasty meat and in some areas of the tropical and subtropical strip are actively used by the fishery. For local consumption, these fish are harvested in almost all tropical countries, and in some places there is also special fishing, which is very often produced by artisanal methods.

On the islands of Polynesia, flying fish are harvested with hook tackles, enriched pieces of shrimp, as well as nets and nets, attracting fish to boats with lit torches or lanterns at night. In the latter method, flying fish themselves fly into the net of anglers. In the Philippine Islands, different net traps, gill nets and purse seines are used for fishing for flying fish, and fishing is usually carried out with a "pen", when several special boats, scaring the fish, drive it to the nets. Quite a significant business exists in India. There it is produced mainly during the spawning of flying fish using artificial floating spawning grounds (in the form of bundles of branches towed behind a boat), to which fish spawning fish are collected, then fished with nets.

Flying fish are also harvested in China, Vietnam, Indonesia (where, apart from fishing the fish themselves, the collection of their eggs deposited on the coastal vegetation is also practiced), on the islands of the Caribbean and in other areas. The most significant fisheries using modern fishing methods (drift nets, purse nets, etc.) exist in Japan. The catch of flying fish in this country is more than half of their global catch.