SailfishSFA

~ 100 cm LJFL

Characteristic features:

  • 2 keels on either side of caudal peduncle
  • First dorsal fin very high and sail-like, highest at its mid-length
  • Pelvic fins narrow and very long, almost reaching anus
  • Lower jaw short relative to LJFL

Colour:

Bluish black above, light blue splattered with brown laterally and silvery white ventrally; about 20 bluish vertical bars on sides; dorsal fin bluish black with numerous dark spots. Colours fade after death and as condition is lost.

Size:

To 350 cm TL, attains a larger size in the Pacific Ocean than in the Atlantic Ocean. The greatest weight recorded is 100.24 kg in the Pacific, but only 60 kg in the Atlantic.1

Distribution:

Circumglobal in tropical and temperate waters.

View FAO distribution map.

Habitat:

Epipelagic in oceanic waters, from the surface to at least 350 m depth.

Biology:

Feeds on a variety of fishes, cephalopods and crustaceans. This species is highly migratory, being most densely distributed in waters close to coasts and islands. Sailfish are reported to display a fast growth rate with females attaining larger sizes than males. In the Eastern Pacific, the size where 50% of individuals reach maturity is estimated at 175 cm EFL for females,2 while length at first maturity estimated at 160–165 cm EFL for both sexes combined. Age at first maturity estimated at 2.5 years3 and maximum recorded age is 13 years.4

Indonesian fisheries:

Caught predominantly by longlines and set nets, but also by harpooning and trolling.

Similar species:

Istiompax indica
Black marlin
Istiompax indica differs in having the anterior portion of the first dorsal fin lower than body depth with a lower posterior portion (vs. dorsal fin sail-like and continuous, taller than maximum body depth for the majority of its length, tallest at mid-fin); pelvic fin rays short, ending well forward of anus (vs. very long, almost reaching anus).

 

Kajikia audax
Striped marlin
Kajikia audax differs in having the anterior portion of the first dorsal fin taller than maximum body depth, posterior portion low (vs. first dorsal fin sail-like and continuous, taller than maximum body depth along the majority of its length, tallest at mid-fin); pelvic fin rays short, ending well forward of anus (vs. very long, almost reaching anus).

 

Makaira nigricans
Blue marlin
BUM
Makaira nigricans differs in having the anterior portion of the first dorsal fin about 2/3 of body depth, posterior portion low (vs. first dorsal fin sail-like and continuous, taller than maximum body depth along the majority of its length, highest at mid-fin); pelvic fin rays short, ending well forward of anus (vs. very long, almost reaching anus).

 

Tetrapturus angustirostris
Shortbill spearfish
tetrapturus angustirostris
Tetrapturus angustirostris differs in having the anterior portion of the first dorsal fin tall, posterior portion low (after about the 19th fin ray) (vs. continuous and sail-like, taller than maximum body depth for the majority of its length, tallest at mid-fin); short bill, only slightly longer than lower jaw (vs. considerably longer) and the anus well forward of first anal fin (vs. just before first anal fin).

 

Xiphias gladius (Xiphiidae)
Broadbill swordfish
Xiphias gladius differs in having a bill that is flat-oval in cross section (vs. round); pelvic fins absent (vs. present, long and almost reaching anus); 1 median keel on caudal peduncle (vs. 2 keels); first dorsal fin not continuous (vs. high, continuous and sail-like, highest at mid-fin); a large interdorsal space (vs. narrow) and a deep notch on both upper and lower profiles on caudal peduncle (vs. shallow notches).

Internal links:

Istiophorus platypterus interactive learning
Istiophorus platypterus market gallery

External links:

FishBase
The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM

References

1.
IGFA. IGFA world record game fishes. International Game Fish Association Dania Beach, Florida. 2011;
2.
Hernandez-H A, Ramirez-R N. Spawning seasonality and length at maturity of sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) off the Pacific coast of Mexico. Bulliten of Marine Science Miami. 1998;63:459–68.
3.
Eldridge MB, Wares PG. Some biological observations of billfishes taken in the eastern Pacific Ocean, 1967-1970. US Nat Mar Fish Serv, NOAA Tech Rep, NMFS SSRF-675 (2). 1974;89–101.
4.
Prince ED, Lee DW, Wilson CA, Dean JM. Longevity and age validation of a tag-recaptured atlantic sailfish, Istiophorus platypterus, using dorsal spines and otoliths. Fishery Bulletin. 1986;84(3):493–502.