Friday, November 6, 2015

California Flying Fish

When the ocean waters are especially warm in southern California one can view California Flying Fish. They are really more "gliding" fish than flying fish, as they don't flap their "wings" (pectoral fins). They gain speed under the water and then jump out, gliding on large pectoral fins. They frequently glide 150 feet before touching the water--and even then, their flight is not necessarily over.

Flying fish have forked tails. The lower lobe of the tail is much longer than the upper. As their glide slows and they drop closer to the water's surface an amazing thing happens. Rather than splash back into the water, they may vibrate their lower tail lobe in the water to pick up speed and extend their flight! Thus, a fish may combine several glides into a single flight reaching several hundred feet! They may stay out of the water for more than 30 seconds.

Up to 19 inches long--California Flying Fish are the world's largest.

California Flying Fish
California Flying Fish. Off San Diego, California. October 11, 2015. Greg Gillson.
California Flying Fish
Vibrating the lower tail lobe for another bout of gliding.
California Flying Fish
Off it glides again!