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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Maritime Logistics Professional

Flying fish

Posted to Maritime Musings (by on November 11, 2014

The marine counterpart to the flying squirrel

Flying fish are a family of fish that have developed large pectoral fins.  They feed on plankton and other small marine food matter.  In turn, they are prey to larger animals including porpoise, dolphin, tuna, marlin, swordfish, mackerel, squid, and sea birds.  Flying fish use their speed and their pectoral fins to evade these predators by propelling themselves into the air and extending the pectoral fins to glide above the surface of the water.  The lower tail fin is often dipped into the water during a glide to control direction.  Gliding for up to 45 seconds has been documented.  Typical glides cover about 150 feet, but with updrafts can extend to over 1,000 feet with speeds of over 40 miles per hour and altitudes to up to 20 feet above the surface.  They are found in tropical and subtropical seas, but not generally in deep ocean waters, favoring coasts of continents, islands, and reefs.  Adults are seldom longer than seven inches in length.  Their “wingspan” from the end of one extended pectoral fin to the end of the other is about the same as their length.  The upper portion of the body is usually iridescent blue, while the lower portion is silvery.  The pectoral fins vary from gray to transparent, depending on the species.  Flying fish are harvested commercially in Japan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, and Barbados.  Flying fish roe is used in sushi.  In the Solomon Islands, fishermen extend nets from their boats above the water and attract flying fish at night with torches.  The fish are caught in midflight.  Flying fish is a popular food source in Barbados and is a national symbol.  As the local waters have been depleted, Barbadian fishermen were increasingly operating in waters near Tobago.  This led to a significant maritime dispute between Barbados and its neighbor Trinidad and Tobago that eventually was submitted to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.  The Barbados claim of special circumstances did not prevail and the Court utilized the equidistance principle to establish the maritime boundary.  But the Court encouraged the parties to agree upon measures necessary to coordinate and ensure the conservation and development of flying fish stocks and to negotiate in good faith and conclude an agreement that would accord fisherfolk of Barbados access to fisheries in Trinidad and Tobago waters subject to the right and duty of that nation to conserve and manage the living resources of waters within its jurisdiction.

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