From 9 decks above the ocean, I looked down and caught the sight of a silvery flash streaking above the water. Within seconds it was gone, but soon I saw a miniature explosion, and out of the water was another streak of silver … a flying fish! Now I have seen flying fish before, but never at this height. It took awhile for my brain to understand what I was seeing!
Flying fish are not actually flying, they are gliding. God designed them with unusually large pectoral fins. By moving their tail up to 70 times per second, they are able to build up speed to glide up out of the water. They then spread their aerodynamic pectoral fins, tilt them to an angle to give lift, and take short gliding flights above the surface of the water. Sometimes they will drop their tail into the water to push themselves into another glide. At the end of the glide, they fold their wings and plunge back into the sea.
Normally a flying fish will glide about 160 feet (50 m), but some have been measured to glide and incredible 1300 feet (400m). They have been clocked at flying over 43 mph (70 kmh). Although they normally glide just above the surface of the water, some have been seen gliding up to an altitude of 20 feet (6m). One flying fish was seen to have glided for 45 continuous seconds.
Scientists say the flying fish uses its gliding skill to escape predators … that is probably true … but I suspect they also often do it just for the fun of it!
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