Photo courtesy of Avi Klapfer/ Rotman/ naturepl.com
The Olympic Games are in full swing! So this week we are featuring a true Olympian. The gold medal for the fastest fish in the world goes to... the Indo-Pacific Sailfish!
The Indo-Pacific Sailfish is a member of the family Istiophoridae, the members of which are collectively termed "marlins".2 The name "marlin" is believed to have been coined from the term Marlinspike, which was a spike like tool used by sailors for ropework.2 Obviously, seeing the long spike like bills that are characteristic of marlins, it isn't too big of a leap to see the origin of the name. But I digress...
There are two species of marlin that are known as sailfish: the Atlantic Sailfish and the Indo-Pacific sailfish, the only two members alive that belong to the genus Istiophorus.2 To see where the term "sailfish" came about, you only need to look at their dorsal fins. Both species of sailfish have very large and very long dorsal fin that literally can be termed a sail when it becomes erect.1 The sail acts to stabilize the fish when swimming (and can be flattened to reduce drag in sudden bursts of speed), as well as being used in mating displays and hunting by scaring their prey, and herding them into a baitball.1
Indo-Pacific sailfish are fast, but their fastest speeds come in short distances. Even so, these fish have been clocked in at 68 mph (basically equivalent to a cheetah)!2 Yes, it is for a short period of time, but you gotta say it: eat your heart out Phelps and Lochte!
Read more about this amazing speed demon of the deep at these following sites: