May 1, 2021 · Uncategorized

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Sometimes when we are out to sea, we wind up with “visitors” on the deck of the ship. At certain times, we come into contact with schools of flying fishes. I can remember a trip out to sea almost 20 years back where I was on a ship that had a rear deck that sat low in the water. It was late and I was trying to unwind after a long evening of photography. I sat alone in a deck chair and noticed something had streaked across my field of view. It startled me. I stood up to try and see what it was. Seconds later, I was being pelted by dozens of flying fishes… they had been spooked by the boat and were gliding, in mass, across the rear deck of the ship. It was something I won’t soon forget.

There are at least 15 species of flying fishes that can be found in the Atlantic/Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico. Flying fishes are famous for their ability to glide. Check out the video I posted on my page a few days earlier about flying fishes. Lots of marine predators eat flying fishes and they need a mechanism to help avoid the heavy predation pressures. They will swim in short bursts to hit high rates of speed. All at once, they will change their trajectory and shoot out of the water. As soon as they leave the water, they spread their pectoral and pelvic fins. The surface area of the fins provides enough lift such that these fishes can glide meters in distance… sometimes as far 200 meters (~650 feet) !! No better a way to escape a potential predator than to leave the environment within which the predators live. This is part of the DEEPEND-RESTORE Project (www.deependconsortium.org). All the work has been done out on the RV Point Sur with an amazing captain and crew. A big thanks to CSA and Gray Lawson for management of the MOCNESS system. My participation is by way of the Center for Conservation & Research, San Antonio Zoo.

This individual, a “Spotfin Flyingfish” (Cheilopogon furcatus) had the misfortune of landing on the deck of the RV Point Sur. I photographed the specimen after finding it (deceased). This is the second species we have come into contact with…
“Spotfin Flyingfish” (Cheilopogon furcatus)
“Spotfin Flyingfish” (Cheilopogon furcatus)
“Spotfin Flyingfish” (Cheilopogon furcatus)
Juvenile Atlantic Flying Fish, Cheilopogon melanurus, caught at surface, Gulf of Mexico, April 2021
Juvenile Atlantic Flying Fish, Cheilopogon melanurus, caught at surface, Gulf of Mexico, April 2021
Juvenile Atlantic Flying Fish, Cheilopogon melanurus, caught at surface, Gulf of Mexico, April 2021
Unidentified species of flying fish gliding over the Gulf waters.
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