The Atlantic flyingfish (Cheilopogon melanurus) is a flying fish in the family Exocoetidae. It was first described by the French zoologist, Achille Valenciennes in a 22-volume work entitled Histoire naturelle des poissons (Natural History of Fish), which was a collaboration with fellow zoologist, Georges Cuvier.
Like many other flyingfishes, the Atlantic flyingfish has a cylindrical body, and large tail and pectoral fins that it uses for flight. To fly, the Atlantic flyingfish jumps out of the water, uses its pectoral fins to catch air currents and provide lift, and beats its tail back and forth to provide thrust. The longest recorded individual was 32 cm long, but most adults are roughly 25 cm long. Atlantic flyingfish are generally green to blue dorsally, and white or silver ventrally. After reaching a speed of 30 km/h,:124 Atlantic flyingfish can jump out of the water and glide about 3 to 12 m.:32 This is presumably done to avoid ocean-going predators.
Distribution and habitat
As its name suggests, the Atlantic flyingfish is only found in the pelagic zone to the neritic zone in the ocean it is named for. In the western Atlantic, they are known to live in Gulf Stream waters from Massachusetts south to Brazil. They are found in the Caribbean Sea and around the Antilles, while in the north, they are found off the coast of Canada. Off Africa, Atlantic flyingfish are known from Senegal to Liberia, and have been reported from São Tomé and Príncipe. They are found in surface waters near shore, where Atlantic flyingfish are preyed upon by several species of larger fishes and seabirds, such as the Wahoo and Sooty tern. Young Atlantic flyingfish up to 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in length have transparent pectorals and often swim in harbors or bays.:124
Beached Atlantic Flying fish in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Beached flying fish being eaten by Atlantic blue crabs (also in Fort Pierce).
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