Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Nov 27, 2016 in Tell Me Why |

How Do Sailfish Move so Quickly?

How Do Sailfish Move so Quickly?

Sailfish are highly prized game fish, and are known for their incredible jumps and great speed. They can swim 100 m in 4.8 sec. Based upon scientific studies over the years; most experts believe that the sailfish can claim the title of fastest swimmer.

They can appear in a startling array of colors, from subdued browns and grays to vibrant purples and even silver. Their body colors are often highlighted by stripes of iridescent blue and silver dots.

Sailfish can change their colors almost instantly—a change controlled by their nervous system. The sailfish can rapidly turn its body light blue with yellowish stripes when excited, confusing its prey and making capture easier, while signaling its intentions to fellow sailfish.

Sailfish can be found in warm ocean waters all over the world. In addition to their long bills, they can easily be identified by their large dorsal fins, known as sails. Stretching the length of their backs, their sails usually stay folded down when swimming. When they want to appear larger, such as when they’re feeding or feel threatened, they can raise them.

Sailfish have been measured swimming at speeds of up to 68 miles per hour. To be fair to other fast fish, though, sailfish do take advantage of a special ability: they can leap into the air for significant distances. These incredible jumps help them to move more quickly, because they travel through the air, which is significantly less dense than water.

How does the sailfish compare to fast humans? Olympic gold-medalist Michael Phelps can swim the 200-meter freestyle in approximately 1.42 minutes, which equates to a speed of about 4.7 mph (miles per hour) or 7.6 km/h (kilometers per hour). A sailfish could cover 200 meters in about 10 seconds!

One fish that might challenge the sailfish for the title of fastest swimmer is the black marlin. Although more studies are needed, fishermen have measured a hooked black marlin pulling line from a fishing reel at a rate of 120 feet per second, which would equate to a swimming speed of about 82 mph or 132 km/h!

Other fast swimmers in the aquatic world include the killer whale (34.5 mph or 55.5 km/h), the Shortfin Mako shark (45 mph or 72.4 km/h), the dolphin (23.6 mph or 37.9 km/h), and the leatherback turtle (22 mph or 35.4 km/h).

Content for this question contributed by Tom Lacey, resident of McKees Rocks, Allegheny County, western Pennsylvania, USA