Definitions

sailfish

sailfish

[seyl-fish]
sailfish, common name for a marine game and food fish belonging to the family Istiophoridae and related to the swordfish and the marlin. It is named for its high, wide dorsal fin, colored deep blue with black spots. Like the marlin it has a pikelike upper jaw and small scales embedded in its skin. The average length is 6 ft (180 cm), though it may reach 10 ft (305 cm). The Atlantic sailfish, Istiophorus americanus, found north to Cape Cod in summer, averages 60 lb (27 kg) in weight, while the Pacific sailfish, I. orientalis, grows to 100 lb (45 kg). Sailfish are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Perciformes, family Istiophoridae.

Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus)

Valued food and game fish in the genus Istiophorus (family Istiophoridae) of warm and temperate waters worldwide. It has a long, rounded spear extending from its snout but is distinguished from marlins and related species by its slimmer form, long pelvic fins, and especially its large, sail-like dorsal fin, which is bright blue and spotted. Deep blue above and silvery below, they grow to about 11 ft (3.4 m) long and 200 lbs (90 kg) or more. They feed mainly on other fishes. Its classification is uncertain, and one (I. platypterus) to several species may be recognized.

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This article is about the fish. For the submarines, see USS'' Sailfish.

Sailfish are two species of fishes in the genus Istiophorus, living in warmer sections of all the oceans of the world. They are blue to gray in color and have a characteristic erectile dorsal fin known as a sail, which often stretches the entire length of the back. Another notable characteristic is the elongated bill, resembling that of the swordfish and other marlins.

Both species of sailfishes grow quickly, reaching 1.2-1.5 m (4-5 ft) in length in a single year, and feed on the surface or at mid-depths on smaller pelagic fishes and squid. Individuals have been clocked at speeds of up to 110 km/h (68 mph), which is the highest speed reliably reported in a fish. Generally, sailfish do not grow to more than 3 m (10 ft) in length and rarely weigh over 90 kg (200 lb), although larger specimens have been seen off the shores of Costa Rica.

The sail is normally kept folded down and to the side when swimming, but it may be raised when the sailfish feels threatened or excited, making the fish appear much larger than it actually is. This tactic has also been observed during feeding, when a group of sailfish use their sails to "herd" a school of fish or squid.

Sailfish are highly prized game fish and are known for their incredible jumps.

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