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‘Istiophorus platypterus.’

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Sailfish, is a species of billfish living in warmer sections of all the oceans of the world. They are predominately 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. They are therefore described as billfish in sport fishing circles.

A sailfish exhibiting sail-raising behavior

Sailfish grow quickly, reaching 3-feet 11-inches to 4-feet 11-inches in length in a single year, and feed on the surface or at mid-depths on smaller pelagic forage fish and squid. Individuals have been clocked at speeds of up to 68 mph, which is one of the highest speeds reliably reported in any water organism. Sailfish do not grow to more than 9.8-feet in length and rarely weigh over 200-pounds

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 is. This tactic has also been observed during feeding when a group of sailfish uses their sails to “herd” a school of fish or squid.

Sailfish are highly prized game fish and are known for their incredible jumps and great speed. They can swim 330-feet in 4.8 seconds. They can appear in a startling array of colors, from subdued browns and grays to vibrant purples and even silver. Their body colors are often highlighted by stripes of iridescent blue and silver dots. Sailfish can change their colors almost instantly—a change controlled by their nervous system. The sailfish can rapidly turn its body light blue with yellowish stripes when excited, confuse its prey and make capture easier while signalling its intentions to fellow sailfish.

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