Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish

Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish, Exocoetus volitans

The Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish, Exocoetus volitans, whose Spanish common name is volador tropical, is a species in the Flyingfish or Exocoetidae Family, known collectively as voladores in Mexico. Globally, there are only five species in the genus Exocoetus, three of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic, one in the Pacific, and one in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish have elongated broadly cylindrical bodies. They are dark dorsally and silvery ventrally. Their fins are pale to slightly dusky. They have a short head with a short blunt snout and a small mouth without teeth. Their anal fin origin is under the third dorsal ray and has 12 to 15 rays; their caudal fin is deeply forked with a longer lower lobe; their dorsal fin has 13 to 15 rays; and their pectoral fins are exceedingly long and reach the caudal fin base. Their pelvic fins are short and do not reach the anal fin base; their origin is closer to the pectoral fin base than the anal fin base. They have 32 to 37 gill rakers. Juveniles have a hump on their nape and no barbels. Their lateral line is low on the body. They are covered with large smooth scales.

The Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish are an oceanic pelagic species found on the surface to depths of 65 feet. They reach a maximum length of 24.0 cm (9.4 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. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish are found in all waters of the Atlantic. In the Pacific they have a limited distribution being found from Todos Santos southward along the southwest coast of Baja, and along the west coast of the mainland south to Guatemala; they are absent from the Sea of Cortez.

The Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish can be confused with the Barbel Flyingfish, Exocoetus monocirrhus (very dark caudal fin) and the Sailfin Flyingfish, Parexocoetus brachypterus (large dorsal fin with very wide black margin).

The Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish are of limited interest to most.

Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish (1)

Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish, Exocoetus volitans. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, November 2011. Length: 20.5 cm (8.0 inches).