Blackwing Flyingfish

Blackwing Flyingfish, Hirundichthys rondeleti

The Blackwing Flyingfish, Hirundichthys rondeleti, whose Spanish common name is volador ala negra, is a species in the Flyingfish or Exocoetidae Family, known collectively as voladores in Mexico. Globally, there are only seven species in the genus Hirundichthys, five of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic, one in the Pacific and three, including this species, found in both oceans.

The Blackwing Flyingfish have elongated cylindrical bodies. They are iridescent blue dorsally and silvery ventrally. Their anal and pelvic fins are transparent; their caudal and dorsal fins are dusky; and their pectoral fins are black with a narrow clear margin. Juveniles have a clear dorsal fin with a dark outer blotch and black pectoral and pelvic fins. They have a short head, a short blunt snout, and a small mouth with conspicuous conical teeth on the sides of each jaw which are of equal length. Their anal fin originates under the dorsal fin and has 11 to 13 rays; their caudal fin is deeply forked with the lower lobe being significantly larger than the upper lobe; their dorsal fin has ten to twelve rays; their pectoral fins are set high on the body and extremely long reaching beyond the anal fin origin; and their pelvic fins are long, reach past the anal fin origin, and are nearer the anal fin origin than the pectoral fin base. Their lateral line is low on the body. They are covered with large smooth scales.

The Blackwing Flyingfish are an oceanic pelagic species found on the surface to depths of 65 feet. They reach a maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches). They feed on planktonic organisms and small fish. In turn they are preyed upon by birds, dolphins, dolphinfish, marlins, porpoises, squid, and tuna. They have large pectoral fins and are capable of leaping and gliding considerable distances above the ocean surface. Reproduction is oviparous with the release of large sticky filaments that attach to floating or benthic weeds.

In Mexican waters the Blackwing Flyingfish are found in all waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from the extreme northern portion of the Sea of Cortez.

The Blackwing Flyingfish is fairly similar to and can be confused with several over flyingfish. Several of these can be eliminated by the position of the anal fin which in many similar species is found well behind the dorsal fin. One exception is the Bladewing Flyingfish, Hirundichthys marginatus (transparent dorsal fin; three bars on side).

The Blackwing Flyingfish are seldom seen by humans. Due to their rarity, they are of limited value and interest to most.

Blackwing Flyingfish (1)

Blackwing Flyingfish, Hirundichthys rondeletti. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen in the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, November 2010. Length: 7.0 cm (2.8 inches). Identification reconfirmed by H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.