Shortbill spearfishSSP

© J. Pepperell, taken in New South Wales, Australia.  ~159 cm LJFL

Characteristic features:

  • 2 keels on either side of caudal peduncle
  • Anterior portion of first dorsal fin taller than maximum body depth, posterior portion lower than maximum body depth
  • Pelvic fins long, but not reaching to anus
  • Nape only slightly elevated to flat
  • Bill short, only slightly longer than lower jaw
  • Anus located well forward of first anal fin by a distance greater than length of first anal-fin base

Colour:

Upper surfaces dark blue with patches of brown, silvery white below. First dorsal fin dark blue, other fins brown to dark brown, anal-fin bases with tinges of white. Colours fading after death.

Size:

Up to 250 cm TL (210 cm FL) and up to 52 kg in weight.

Distribution:

Circumglobal in tropical and temperate waters.

No FAO distribution map available.

Habitat:

Epi- and mesopelagic, oceanic, from the surface to at least 1,830 m depth.

Biology:

Feeds primarily on fish, but also cephalopods and crustaceans. This species is widespread but seldom seen. Spawning is believed to occur mainly during the winter months, especially in offshore currents of about 25°C. Females are usually larger than males. No information on maturity or longevity is available.

Indonesian fisheries:

Caught primarily by surface trolling.

Similar species:

Istiompax indica
Black marlin
Istiompax indica differs in having a bill considerably longer than the lower jaw (vs. slightly longer); an anus located slightly forward of first anal fin by a distance less than length of first anal-fin base (vs. an anus well forward of first anal fin by a distance greater than length of first anal-fin base); a nape steep (vs. low to flat) and the anterior part of the first dorsal fin higher than maximum body depth (vs. lower than maximum body depth).

 

Istiophorus platypterus
Sailfish
Istiophorus platypterus differs in having a bill considerably longer than the lower jaw (vs. slightly longer); first dorsal fin sail-like, tallest at mid-fin (vs. height of anterior portion of first dorsal fin about equal to body depth, posterior portion lower than body depth) and pelvic fins very long, almost reaching to anus (vs. moderate in length, but not reaching to anus).

 

Kajikia audax
Striped marlin
Kajikia audax differs in having a bill considerably longer than the lower jaw (vs. slightly longer); an anus located slightly forward of first anal fin by a distance less than length of first anal-fin base (vs. an anus well anterior of first anal fin by a distance greater than length of first anal-fin base) and a nape steep (vs. low and flat).

 

Makaira nigricans
Blue marlin
Makaira nigricans
Makaira nigricans differs in having a bill considerably longer than the lower jaw (vs. slightly longer); an anus located slightly forward of first anal fin by a distance less than length of first anal-fin base (vs. an anus well anterior of first anal fin by a distance greater than length of first anal-fin base); a nape steep (vs. shallow to flat) and anterior part of dorsal fin higher than maximum body depth (vs. lower, about 2/3 its height).

 

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); 1 median keel on caudal peduncle (vs. 2 keels) and a deep notch on both upper and lower profiles on caudal peduncle (vs. shallow notches).

External links:

FishBase
The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM