~ Flying Fish ~

Flying fishes make up the family Exocoetidae in the order Atheriniformes. The most common flying fish is classified as Exocoetus volitans. The "four-winged" species with the same range as Exocoetus volitans is classified as Cypselurus furcatus. The great flying fish is classified as Cypselurus californicus, and the sharpshin flying fish is classified as Fodiator acutus.

The majority of flying fishes are found in tropical and semitropical waters, but there are some species that can be found farther north.

It is believed that they leave the water when being pursued by predatory fishes (flying fishes are the natural prey of the bluefish and albacore). Once in the air they sometimes become the prey of various fish-eating birds.

The flight of flying fish may consist of several glides, in which they repeatedly return to the surface of the water long enough to renew their propelling power. They can rise to a maximum of about 35 feet into the air and glide as far as 200 yards. This gliding activity is often exhibited by an entire school of flying fish. The tail provides the sole means of thrust while the greatly elongated pectoral fins serve to provide lift in flight.

These fish have large, stiff pectoral fins almost as long as the body; some species also have elongated pelvic fins, giving them the appearance of having four wings. The upper lobe of the tail, or caudal fin, is smaller than the lower. The head and body scales are large and soft, and a ridge runs longitudinally along both sides of the body.

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