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Author: (Latreille, 1804)

Istiophorus albicans (Latreille, 1804)

Diagnosis: body elongate, fairly compressed and tapering; nape rising fairly steeply, bill long, slender and round in cross-section. Pectoral fins greater than post-orbital part of head; pelvic fins very long, nearly twice length of pectoral fins and reaching well beyond midpoint of body, the finrays fused, with a well-developed membrane; first dorsal fin high and sail-like, its height much greater than body depth, with 42-46 finrays, second dorsal fin small, with 6-7 finrays; first anal fin with 11-14 finrays, second with 6-7 finrays; anus close to first anal fin origin; 2 horizontal keels on each side of caudal peduncle, caudal strongly forked. Body covered with rather sparse embedded scales, each with a blunt point. Colour: back blue-black, flanks and belly silvery; dorsal fins greyish, the first with dark spots, anal fins whitish, but lobe of first grey. Size: to about 3 m TL.

Habitat: epipelagic, fast-swimming, more coastal than other billfishes, usually above the thermocline; high dorsal fin may help in making sharp turns or in reducing speed. Food: a wide variety of pelagic fishes (sardines, anchovies, mackerels, carangids, etc.) also crustaceans, cephalopods; the bill may be used for attacking prey. Reproduction: throughout year in eastern Atlantic; females grow larger, but are otherwise similar to males.

Distribution: warmer parts of area, straying northward to the Channel, also southwestern parts of Mediterranean. Elsewhere, throughout warm waters of Atlantic.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. Günther, 1873 | Lütken, 1876a-b; 1880 | Beebe, 1941 | Yabe, 1953 | Voss, 1954 | Gehringer, 1957 | Jones, l959a-b | Cadenat, 1961 | Jones & Kumaran, 1962a-b | Ueyanagi, 1962 | de Sylva, 1963a | Gehringer, 1970.
Otoliths (sagitta). No data.

Note. Kept distinct from the Indo-Pacific I. platypterus (see genus).

Atlantic sailfish (Istiophorus albicans)