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FLYING FISH

The Exocoetidae are a family of marine fish in the order Beloniformes of class Actinopterygii. Fish of this family are known as flying fish. About 64 species are grouped in seven to nine genera.

Scientific name: Exocoetidae

Higher classification: Beloniformes

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In May 2008, a Japanese television crew  filmed a flying fish (dubbed “Icarfish”) off the coast of Yakushima Island, Japan. The creature spent 45 seconds in flight. The previous record was 42 seconds.

The flights of flying fish are typically around 50 meters (160 ft),[ though they can use updrafts at the leading edge of waves to cover distances of up to 400 m (1,300 ft). They can travel at speeds of more than 70 km/h (43 mph). Maximum altitude is 6 m (20 ft) above the surface of the sea. Some accounts have them landing on ships’ decks

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Flying fish are commercially fished in Japan, Vietnam, and China by gillnetting, and in Indonesia and India by dipnetting Often in Japanese cuisine, the fish is preserved by drying. The roe of Cheilopogon agoo, or Japanese flying fish, is used to make some types of sushi, and is known as tobiko. It is also a staple in the diet of the Tao people ofOrchid Island, Taiwan. Flying fish is part of the national dish of Barbados, cou-cou and flying fish.

In the Solomon Islands, the fish are caught while they are flying, using nets held from outrigger canoes. They are attracted to the light of torches. Fishing is done only when no moonlight is available.

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Barbados is known as “the land of the flying fish”, and the fish is one of the national symbols of the country. Once abundant, it migrated between the warm, coral-filled Atlantic Ocean surrounding the island of Barbados and the plankton-rich outflows of the Orinoco River in Venezuela.

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Just after the completion of the Bridgetown Harbor / Deep Water Harbor in Bridgetown, Barbados saw an increase of ship visits, linking the island to the world. The overall health of the coral reefs surrounding Barbados suffered due to ship-based pollution. Additionally, Barbadian overfishing pushed them closer to the Orinoco delta, no longer returning to Barbados in large numbers. Today, the flying fish only migrate as far north as Tobago, around 120 nmi (220 km; 140 mi) southwest of Barbados. Despite the change, flying fish remain a coveted delicacy.

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Many aspects of Barbadian culture center around the flying fish: it is depicted on coins, as sculptures in fountains, in artwork, and as part of the official logo of the Barbados Tourism Authority. Additionally, the Barbadian coat of arms features a pelican and dolphin fish on either side of the shield, but the dolphin resembles a flying fish. Furthermore, actual artistic renditions and holograms of the flying fish are also present within the Barbadian passport.

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