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The word "animal" comes from the Latin word animale, neuter of animalis, and is derived from anima, meaning vital breath or soul. In everyday colloquial usage, the word usually refers to non-human animals. The biological definition of the word refers to all members of the Kingdom Animalia. Therefore, when the word "animal" is used in a biological context, humans are included.
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About Flying Fish / Exocoetidae

Posted by WishbonE at 2:02 AM

Friday, September 26, 2008

About Flying Fish / Exocoetidae

Flyingfishes or Exocoetidae are aptly named for their habit of emerging quickly from the water and gliding for long distances. The term Exocoetidae comes from the Greek εξω-κοιτο?? (exo-koitos, "lying down outside" or "sleeping under the stars") and refers to the common occurrence of stranded flying fish lying in boats. The constellation Volans ("flying fish") also refers to this animal. This marine fish family comprising about 50 species grouped in 7 to 9 genera. Flying fish are found in all the major oceans, mainly in warm tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Their most striking feature is their pectoral fins, which are unusually large, and enable the fish to take short gliding flights through air, above the surface of the water, in order to escape predators.

Flying fish can be seen jumping out of warm ocean waters worldwide. Their streamlined torpedo shape helps them gather enough underwater speed to break the surface, and their large, wing-like pectoral fins get them airborne. Some flying fish shed their pectoral fins every 20 to 40 days. In some species the pelvic fins are also unusually large, so the fish appears to have four wings. Most species reach a maximum length of 30 cm, though a few may be as long as 45 cm. Their eyes are relatively larger than those of other fish as well as flatter which improves visual acuity in the air. Flying fish live close to the water surface and feed on plankton.

The process of taking flight, or gliding, begins by gaining great velocity underwater, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) per hour. Angling upward, the four-winged flying fish breaks the surface and begins to taxi by rapidly beating its tail while it is still beneath the surface. It then takes to the air, sometimes reaching heights over 4 feet (1.2 meters) and gliding long distances, up to 655 feet (200 meters). Once it nears the surface again, it can flap its tail and taxi without fully returning to the water. Capable of continuing its flight in such a manner, flying fish have been recorded stretching out their flights with consecutive glides spanning distances up to 1,312 feet (400 meters). In May 2008, a Japanese television crew (NHK) filmed a flying fish off the coast of Yakushima Island, Japan. The creature spent 45 seconds in flight. This is thought to be one of the longest recorded flights by a specimen of that family. The fish was able to stay aloft by occasionally beating the surface of the water with its caudal fin. The previous record was 42 seconds.

Historically the country of Barbados was nicknamed as "The land of the Flying fish." The once abundant flying fish migrated between the warm coral-filled Atlantic Ocean surrounding the island of Barbados and the plankton-rich outflows of the Orinoco River in Venezuela. In Barbados, the flying fish is depicted on coins, as sculptures in fountains, in artwork, or even as part of the official logo of the Barbados Tourism Authority which features a Flying fish in flight. Additionally, the Barbadian coat of Arms features a Pelican and Dolphin on either side of the shield, but the dolphin resembles a flying fish. Just after the completion of the Deep Water Habour in Bridgetown, Barbados saw an increase of international ships, linking the island to the world. As a result the overall health of the coral reefs surrounding Barbados suffered due to ship-based pollution. Additionally, over-fishing by Barbadians has meant the species of flying fish have slowly retreated closer to the Orinico River delta no longer returning around Barbados in large numbers. Today the flying fish only annually migrate as far north as the island of Tobago, around 120 nautical miles southwest of Barbados. Despite the move, Flying fish have remained a coveted delicacy in Barbados. In recent times the flying fish have also been gaining in culinary popularity in other islands, adding fuel to several Caribbean-maritime disputes.

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