Fun Indo-pacific Sailfish Facts For Kids

Dayna Clarke
Aug 30, 2023 By Dayna Clarke
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Indo-Pacific sailfish facts are full of astonishing feats, such as this fish being the fastest fish in the world!
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.6 Min

The Indo-Pacific sailfish is known by many names across the world, such as the Atlantic sailfish. It is a type of billfish.

Native to the Pacific and Indian oceans and it has a large silvery-blue body. These fish are incredible predators and have many unique abilities. In fact, they are the world's fastest swimming fish!

They have an intricate dorsal fin, which resembles a sail and helps them reach those top speeds. Found in most of the world's oceans, they are certainly a fascinating migratory species. You'll also notice they are considered a prized catch for many anglers across the world, due to their impressive size.

However, they are not often eaten and do not appear on many world menus as they are difficult to cook. That being said, you can find them in tacos in Mexico!

In this fact file, you can find out everything you need to know about the average weight, behavior, and lifespan of the Indo-Pacific sailfish. What's more, if you are looking for further fish fact files, check out the incredible bonito fish and the intriguing rockfish.

Indo-Pacific Sailfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Indo-Pacific sailfish?

The Indo-Pacific sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) is a type of fish species.

What class of animal does an Indo-Pacific sailfish belong to?

The Indo-Pacific sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) belongs to the Fish class of the animal kingdom. More specifically they form a part of the family Istiophoridae and order Perciformes. They are a variety of billfish, just like swordfish.

How many Indo-Pacific sailfish are there in the world?

The exact number of Indo-Pacific sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) species in the world is not known. They are not commonly eaten or sold commercially.

Where does an Indo-Pacific sailfish live?

The Indo-Pacific sailfish live in the ocean. Although they are native to tropical and temperate waters they can be found in most of the world's oceans, from the Atlantic to the Eastern Pacific and the Mediterranean sea. Sometimes they even take the name of where they are, such as the Atlantic sailfish.

What is an Indo-Pacific sailfish's habitat?

Although they originate from a tropical habitat, they can be found across the world's oceans. Every year they migrate, swimming to higher latitudes during the summer months, and towards the equator in autumn.

Who do Indo-Pacific sailfish live with?

Indo-Pacific sailfish live with other sailfish in schools. They generally serve as a predator to fish smaller than them and prey on squid and octopus.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

How long does an Indo-Pacific sailfish live?

The average lifespan of this species is around  13-15 years. This age is much less if the fish is caught and then released when it reduces to approximately three to five years.

How do they reproduce?

Spawning seasons vary depending on where in the world the fish live, on average it occurs during the summer months of their climate. The male will follow the female near to the surface of the water.

Fertilization in this species occurs externally and then the eggs hatch after around 36 hours. A large female can release as many as 4.5 million eggs during spawning.

The females of this species are bigger than the males, this is so they can carry as many eggs as possible during the spawning season.

What is their conservation status?

The status, according to IUCN, of Indo-Pacific sailfish species is currently ranked as Least Concern. However, these fishes are often caught accidentally as bycatch for fishing tuna longliners.

What's more, they serve as a prime target for anglers and spearfishing due to their large size. These are not easy fish to catch and can take hours to land, giving a strong fight in the process. However, this makes this species more desirable for spearfishers and anglers.

Indo-Pacific Sailfish Fun Facts

What do Indo-Pacific sailfish look like?

Indo-Pacific Sailfish

These fish have a long body length and are usually a silvery-blue color. Their upper jaw is long and pointy and almost looks like a spear. The upper jaw is silver and almost twice the length of the lower jaw.

The first dorsal fin is very big and it resembles a sail. According to many marine biologists, these dorsal fins may serve as a thermostat for the fish, cooling them down and warming them up.

They raise the dorsal fins before a fast swim, and near the surface of the water. Visually, the sail-like dorsal fin has lots of black cones spread throughout.

Further down the body, the pelvic fins of this species are very narrow, they also have a white underbelly. The pelvic fins also have one sharp spine and lots of soft rays.

Many marine biologists believe Indo-Pacific sailfish are the same species as the Atlantic sailfish, however, this topic is the subject of much debate.

How cute are they?

As they are considered one of the top predators of the ocean, these fish are not so cute! They like to swim near the surface of the ocean, and if you were to see one out in the Atlantic, it might well make you jump! They have an exceptionally long jaw, designed to prey on fish like tuna.

How do they communicate?

They are often found swimming in groups, which makes the Indo-Pacific sailfish predators to many other marine animals. They team up and use their sail-like dorsal fin to serve as a barrier around their prey. They often use this dorsal fin to communicate the direction in which to swim, within the schools of fish.

How big is an Indo-Pacific sailfish?

This species can range in length from 5.7 to 11 ft (1.7 to 3.4 m), this is just a little less than half the size of the average killer whale. Due to their large size, Indo-pacific sailfish predators include only creatures bigger than them such as dolphins, sharks, and orcas.

The biggest sailfish ever caught was 11.2 feet (340 cm) in length and weighed an astonishing 220.5 pounds (100 kg).

How fast can an Indo-Pacific sailfish swim?

They are often regarded as the fastest fish in the ocean! Indo-Pacific sailfish speeds can reach up to 70 mph (112 kph). Their strong blue body is well designed to reach fast speeds as well as their efficient fins.

How much does an Indo-Pacific sailfish weigh?

They are exceptionally heavy fishes, weighing up to 220 pounds (100 kg)!

What are the male and female names of the species?

The males and females of this species do not have sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby Indo-Pacific sailfish?

Once they hatch, they are called tiny larvae without their famous jaw. They then grow from 0.125 inches (0.3 cm) as hatchlings into free-swimming fingerlings.

What do they eat?

These fish are one of the top predators of the world's ocean. They prey on squid, octopus, and smaller marine life. They can swim in great depths to look for food.

Are they dangerous?

They are relatively dangerous fish. They are a predator for many marine creatures, and very difficult to land when caught. Their fins and bills can cause great harm to humans, and they are likely to pull you into the water.

Would they make a good pet?

This fish species are a wild fish in the ocean, and not intended to be kept as a pet. They require the sea life and habitat to thrive.

Did you know...

These fish often free jump out of the water in a spiral direction. They do so in an anti-clockwise direction with their fins tightly folded close to their body. They do this as part of their hunting process to catch other fish! It helps to gather baitfish closer together.

What is unique about the Indo-Pacific sailfish?

They are often regarded as the fastest fish in the world's oceans, they can swim incredibly fast. They are also named after their unique sail-like dorsal fin.

What survival mechanisms do Indo-Pacific sailfish have?

Indo-Pacific sailfish prefer swimming in open water, well away from land. Although these fishes spend the majority of their life near the surface of the ocean the swimming depth of the Indo-Pacific sailfish is also a survival mechanism. They can swim to depths of up to 1,150 ft (350 m) to catch food.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including Mahi Mahi facts and Koi facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Indo-pacific sailfish coloring pages.

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Written by Dayna Clarke

Bachelor's degree specializing in Speech Therapy and Psychology, Postgraduate degree specializing in Dysphagia

Dayna Clarke picture

Dayna ClarkeBachelor's degree specializing in Speech Therapy and Psychology, Postgraduate degree specializing in Dysphagia

A true "linguaphile," Dayna's upbringing in rural Devon exposed her to three languages spoken at home. After pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Reading, she embarked on a fulfilling career as a Speech and Language Therapist, specializing in early intervention for children with special educational needs. Additionally, she provides support to adults and teenagers dealing with dysfluency. She also has a postgraduate degree in Dysphagia from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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