Flying Fish

Exocoetidae is a family of marine fish in the order Beloniformes of class Actinopterygii. Fish of this family are known as flying fish. There are about sixty-four species grouped in seven to nine genera. Flying fish can make powerful, self-propelled leaps out of water into air, where their long, wing-like fins enable gliding flight for considerable distances above the water's surface. This uncommon ability is a natural defense mechanism to evade predators.

The oldest known fossil of a flying or gliding fish, Potanichthys xingyiensis, dates back to the Middle Triassic, 235-242 million years ago. However, this fossil in not related to modern flying fish, which evolved independently about 65 million years ago.

Flight measurements

In May 2008, a Japanese television crew (NHK) filmed a flying fish (dubbed "Icarfish") off the coast of Yakushima Island, Japan. The creature spent 45 seconds in flight.[11] The previous record was 42 seconds.[11]

Flying fish can use updrafts at the leading edge of waves to cover distances of at least 400 m (1,300 ft).[8] They can travel at speeds of more than 70 kilometres per hour (43 mph).[9] Maximum altitude is 6 m (20 ft) above the surface of the sea.[10] Some accounts have them landing on ships' decks.


The term "Exocoetidae" is not only the present scientific name for a genus of flying fish in this family, but also the general name in Latin for a flying fish. The suffix -idae, common for indicating a family, follows the root of the Latin word exocoetus, a transliteration of the Ancient Greek name ἐξώκοιτος. This means literally "sleeping outside", from ἔξω "outside" and κοῖτος "bed", "resting place",[3] so named as flying fish were believed to leave the water to sleep on the shore