Halfbeak Family Photos and Information – Hemiramphidae

The Halfbeak Family – Hemiramphidae

Balao, Hemiramphus balao. a representative member of the Halfbeak or Hemiramphidae Family.

The Halfbeak or Hemiramphidaee Family, known as pajaritos in Mexico, are elongated silvery fish with an elongated lower jaw that extends into a long beak. When used as baits, Halfbeaks found off the Baja California and Pacific coasts of Mexico are called “Ballyhoo” by local fishermen, noting that the Ballyhoo, Hemiramphus brasiliensis, is in fact a species found only in the Atlantic Ocean. Their upper jaw is triangular and very short, giving rise to the “halfbeak” name. They have a ridge across their nose and their bodies are . Globally there are one hundred eleven family members that have been placed in thirteen genera, of which fourteen are found in Mexican waters, six in the Atlantic, six in the Pacific, and two in both oceans. They are greenish to blue dorsally and are silvery white ventrally and on their sides. Many have a lower jaw with a red tip. Their anal and dorsal fins are at the rear of the body with bases opposite each other and have no spines. Their caudal fin is forked or concave with a longer lower lobe. Their pelvic fins are low on the body and located toward the rear of the body with six rays. Their pectoral fins are short. Their lateral line runs along the ventral portion of the body. They are covered with large smooth scales. The majority of Halfbeaks are omnivores feeding on floating sea grasses, crustaceans, and small fish. In turn they are preyed upon by birds, dolphins, dorado, marlins, porpoises, squids, and tuna and are a major component of the food chain. They have the ability to breach and skitter on the water surface. Reproduction is oviparous with females generating large eggs that are adhesive and attach themselves to floating objects. They are found in all global tropical and temperate seas but are not of significant commercial importance. They are sold in local markets, being caught with seines, surface trawls, and dip nets at night under lights, with excellent flesh being marketed fresh, dried or smoked. They are closely related to the Flyingfish (Exocoetidae Family).

There are seven members of the Halfbeak or Hemiramphidae Family, two from the Atlantic and five from the Pacific, are currently presented in this website:

Balao, Hemiramphus balao
Ballyhoo, Hemiramphus brasiliensis
Choelo Halbeak, Hyporhamphus gilli
Longfin Halfbeak, Hemiramphus saltator
Pacific Silverstripe Halfbeak, Hyporhamphus naos
Ribbon Halfbeak, Euleptorhamphus viridis
Smallwing Flyingfish, Oxyporhamphus micropterus