There is a lot that Mother Earth provides for us. Aside from the beautiful scenery and remarkable landscapes, it is also filled with countless unique species. Bodies of water, for instance, hold incredible biodiversity. There are thousands of fish species, each with its own uniqueness. In fact, there is even a flying fish. Better known by the scientists as the “Exocoetidae,” this particular species is famous because of its ability to make self-propelled leaps out of the water.
Flying fish cannot fly like birds do. However, their movements are still incredible, especially for marine creatures that can’t live without water. Unfortunately, they are hard to find, especially in the colder parts of the earth. But this fate won’t stop us from learning some cool and fun facts about the mighty flying fish! If you want to know more, make sure to stick around because we have a lot of juicy stuff that will keep you entertained!
1. It is One of the Oldest Species in the World
Some creatures can’t stand the test of time and become extinct. Some others evolved and became a whole new creatures with a unique distinction. But flying fish have turned out to be really old. In fact, the first flying fish appeared as far back as the Middle Triassic era (roughly 200 to 250 million years ago). This awesome discovery was reported by Ke-Qin Gao at Peking University in Beijing.
Although people call it the first flying fish, this particular fossil is quite different when you compare it with the modern flying fish. It belonged to a group of fish: the Thoracopteridae, which has a gliding skills. Measuring only 15 cm long, it has a pair of large pectoral fins that act as the main wing for them to glide.
2. How do Flying Fish “Fly”?
Besides dolphins, you can categorize flying fish as the most popular sea creature to regularly jump into the sky. The long distance that they can cover makes it as if they are really flying, when in reality they’re just gliding. B
ut how do they accomplish it? Before going airborne, they need to swim very fast underwater and reach an average speed of 35 miles per hour. Then, they will use their momentum and lift themselves up. Once they reach the air, they can use their fins to glide around for quite some time.
Surely, flying fish don’t do this kind of action to show off their skills. And unlike dolphins, they can still breathe underwater with their scales. So, why bother flying? The answer to that question is easy: to survive. Flying fish is a favorite prey for swordfish and marlin. When a predator tries to hunt them down, they can use this trick to confuse them and run away.
3. There are Over 40 Species of Flying Fish
This fish does not belong to only a specific species. In fact, flying fish is part of a group that consists of 40 more specific species. Despite their similarities, there are some characteristics that can differentiate them from other species. For instance, you can easily tell between a blue flying fish and a black flying fish just by looking at its skin color. One noticeable species might be the California flying fish. It is the largest of all flying fish, as it is capable of growing up to 1.6 ft (0.5 m).
4. Flying Fish Can be Found All Over the World
Seeing as flying fish has 40 different species, it makes perfect sense that you can find them in oceans all across the world. They prefer to live on the open ocean, as their main source of food is the plankton. However, you can also see that some of them live on the outskirts of coral reefs.
Flying fish are tropical and temperate marine species. Therefore, you’re going to see more in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans compared to other colder ones. The reason is the effect of the temperature on the wings of the flying fish itself. In colder temperatures, their muscular functions will be less functional, making it harder for them to glide through the air.
5. Flying Fish Have a Short Lifespan and They Mate in Large Groups
Don’t expect a flying fish to grow old like us. In fact, an average flying fish can only live for about five years. They also tend to mate during the period between December and June, which explains the abundance of their numbers during that time.
Their method of reproduction is also quite unique! The mating cycle usually happens in the open ocean, particularly where the currents are the weakest. According to observations, flying fish will mate in a large group, often over a million at a time! It really explains the increase in their numbers in December, right? To ensure their survival, newly-hatched flying fish have long whiskers that enable them to camouflage and look like flowers instead.
6. Flying Fish are Very Delicious, Albeit Not a Popular Menu
When you’re thinking of seafood, the most direct answer will be crabs, squids, or shrimps. Even if we’re discussing fish, it’s going to be salmon, tuna, and other common ones. However, it turns out that flying fish is really yummy food to eat. It has a mild taste that closely resembles sardine. The oily and moist flesh makes it perfect for various dishes, such as fish cakes and macaroni bakes.
In Japan and Taiwan, flying fish roe are often used as garnishes for other fish dishes like sushi. But it all gets really interesting in Barbados, as it is the Bajan national dish (along with cou-cou). As Barbados is known as the “land of the flying fish”, it’s only natural that most of their dishes are inspired by that same creature.
7. Flying Fish are so Popular That They Caused a Maritime Incident
People dub Barbados as the land of flying fish because of the vast amount of flying fish that can be found nearby. However, the migratory patterns of flying fish started to move away into Trinidad and Tobago’s territory.
As flying fish are very important to Barbados (both from an economic and cultural perspective), they started a dispute which sought to claim rights to fishing flying fish in Trinidad and Tobago’s territory. Fortunately, the matter could be solved in court and the Barbadians earned limited access to catch flying fish across the borders of Trinidad and Tobago.
8. Flying Fish Needs to Have Protection from Airborne Predators
The main purpose for flying fish to glide through the air is, in fact, to avoid a vicious predator underwater. This feat, however, imposes other risks, and it is the risk of getting caught by another predator called birds. Thankfully, young flying fish have filaments that protrude from their lower jaws that camouflage them, making them look like plant blossoms.
9. To Catch a Flying Fish, You Need to Get Creative
There is an art required to catch a flying fish. In fact, using a simple fishing pole and lure isn’t going to work, unless there is a miracle. However, it doesn’t mean that catching one is only possible for the experienced! First things first, you need to make sure that your angler comes with lights and lots of them. It would also be preferable to fish at night or early in the morning because the fish will then turn its attention towards the light on your angler.
Light is a flying fish’s weakness, and therefore using it to its fullest will be a benefit for you. But if you want a more challenging option, you can also use the traditional hook and line method. Make sure to use their favorite foods as baits, such as planktons and small crustaceans. However, this method won’t guarantee you a huge amount of fish compared to the former.
Oh, one more thing: make sure that you bring a helmet to shield you from incoming flying fish that land on your boat from out of nowhere.
10. Flying Fish Symbolizes a Lot of Things
In several cultures, flying fish is, in fact, more than just a mere species of marine creature. People often depict them as a powerful symbol of good fortunes and positive energy. Some might even consider that seeing a flying fish will mean that your fortune will turn in the right direction, no matter how hard your situation is now.
Additionally, flying fish usually travel and mate in groups, which symbolizes strength in numbers. In life, tackling a difficult challenge is easier if you have friends and family members that help you.
11. An Amazing Flying Fish is Caught Gliding for 45 Seconds!
Gliding through the air is awesome, but a flying fish won’t have enough time to enjoy the scenery. However, one flying fish dared to defy the odds and managed to “fly” for 45 seconds, hence breaking the world record for the longest ever flight done by a flying fish (that we know of!).
This monumental event was recorded by a film crew from Japan in May 2008. Judging by the speed of the ferry, it appears that the flying fish was traveling at around 30 km/h. Not bad at all!
12. Longest Distance Covered in a Single Flight by a Flying Fish
After a flying fish does a gliding motion, it is not necessary for them to dive into the waters again. In fact, flying fish can extend their time longer if they flap their tails. Furthermore, they can also perform consecutive glides in a single flight.
After discussing the longest time for one glide, let’s talk about the longest distance covered in a single flight done by a flying fish. This time, the number is 1312, as in 1312 feet covered in a single attempt!