Billfish

Sailfish

sketch

Family Istiophoridae, BILLFISHES
Istiophorus platypterus


Description: color dark blue on top, brown-blue laterally, silvery white underbelly; upper jaw elongated in form of spear; first dorsal greatly enlarged in the form of a sail, with many black spots, its front squared off, highest at its midpoint; pelvic fins very narrow, reaching almost to the anus; body covered with embedded scales, blunt at end; lateral line curved above pectoral, then straight to base of tail.

Similar Fish: white marlin, Tetrapterus albidus; young blue marlin, Makaira nigricans (spectacular sail-like dorsal of sailfish is most notable difference).

Where found: OFFSHORE species, in south Florida associated with waters near the Gulf Stream; off the Panhandle near the 100 foot fathom line. East of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach.

Size: common to 7 feet.

*Florida Record: 116 lbs.

Remarks: rapid growing species, reaching 4 to 5 feet in a single year; swims at speeds up to 50 knots; feeds on the surface or at mid-depths on smaller pelagic fishes and squid.

White Marlin

sketch

Family Istiophoridae, BILLFISHES
Tetrapterus albidus


Description: color of body dark blue to chocolate brown, shading to silvery white underbelly; noticeable spots on dorsal fin; upper jaw elongated in shape of spear; body covered with embedded scales with a single sharp point; tips of first dorsal, pectoral, and first anal fins rounded; lateral line curved above pectoral fin, then going in straight line to base of tail.

Similar Fish: blue marlin, Makaira nigricans.

Where found: OFFSHORE, a blue water fish. East of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach.

Size: common to 8 feet.

*Florida Record: 161 lbs.

Remarks: uses its bill to stun fast-moving fishes, then turns to consume them; spawning procedures unknown; ranges throughout the Atlantic and Caribbean; feeds on squid and pelagic fishes.

Blue Marlin

sketch

Family Istiophoridae, BILLFISHES
Makaira nigricans


Description: color cobalt blue on top shading to silvery white on bottom; upper jaw elongated in form of spear; dorsal fin pointed at front end; pectoral fin and anal fin pointed; lateral line reticulated (interwoven like a net), difficult to see in large specimens; no dark spots on dorsal fin; body covered with embedded scales ending in one or two sharp points.

Similar Fish: white marlin, Tetrapterus albidus (white has rounded tip of pectoral and anal fins, and spots on the dorsal fin).

Where found: OFFSHORE, a blue water fish. East of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach and south

Size: largest of the Atlantic marlins, common to 11 feet, known to exceed 2,000 pounds.

*Florida Record: 980 lbs., 8 ozs.

Remarks: all of trophy size are females; males do not exceed 300 pounds; make trans-Atlantic migrations; spawning procedures unknown; feeds on squid and pelagic fishes, including blackfin tuna and frigate mackerel.