Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Beloniformes
(Needle fishes) > Exocoetidae
Etymology: Hirundichthys: latin, hirundo = swift; 1300 + Greek, ichthys = fish (Ref. 45335).
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; pelagic-neritic; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 100 m (Ref. 5217). Subtropical; 41°N - 13°S, 98°W - 14°E
Eastern Atlantic: Guinea to Angola. Western Atlantic: Gulf Stream off Virginia, USA and northern Gulf of Mexico to northern Brazil (Ref. 7251), including the Caribbean Sea (Ref. 3720). Northwest Atlantic: Canada (Ref. 5951).
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 23.0  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 33.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 109257); common length : 24.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5217); max. reported age: 1 years (Ref. 6503)
soft rays: 11 - 12. Body elongate, thick, somewhat flattened ventrally; snout shorter than eye, blunt; palatine teeth usually absent; dorsal and anal fins set far back on body, their bases short; dorsal fin low, rays at anterior end the longest; anal fin origin slightly before, or 1 or 2 rays behind dorsal fin origin; pectoral fins strikingly long, 60 to 70 % of SL, only first ray unbranched; pelvic fins large, reaching well beyond anal fin origin; more than 25 scale rows of predorsal scales; dorsally, the color is usually iridescent blue or green in life; dorsal fin colorless or only slightly pigmented; pectoral fins dark, with a pale basal triangle and a narrow white margin (on trailing edge when extended) (Ref. 3720).
Occurs in surface waters both near and far from the coast (Ref. 5217). Forms schools. Capable of leaping out and gliding for long distances above the water. Seasonal variation in abundance was noted in the eastern Caribbean countries, a phenomenon that may be due to post-spawning mortality (Ref. 6838). The most important commercial fish species of the eastern Caribbean (Ref. 6504). Considered a good food fish; marketed fresh.
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Spawns on the water surface and to a depth of 20 m (Ref. 6834). Post-spawning mortality may explain the disappearance of mature cohorts at the close of the spawning season in June (Ref. 6838).
Gibbs, R.H. Jr., 1978. Exocoetidae. In W. Fischer (ed.) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Western Central Atlantic (Fishing Area 31). Vol. 2. pag.var. (Ref. 3720)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 119314)
CITES (Ref. 115941)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: commercial; bait: usually
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969
): 14.3 - 23.6, mean 20 (based on 39 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5002 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00417 (0.00157 - 0.01105), b=3.12 (2.89 - 3.35), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.8 ±0.56 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): High, minimum population doubling time less than 15 months (tm<1; tmax=1).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low vulnerability (16 of 100) .