Flying fish (Exocoetidae) is a family of Beloniformes. It has 8 genera, about 50 species. Body length 15-50 cm. Jaws are short, teeth are small. Pectoral fins are long, used for hovering. Scales are large. Marine pelagic fish of open and coastal tropical and subtropical waters of the World Ocean. Planktophagous. Flying fish are the object of fishery in many Asian countries. A distinctive feature of fish is their unusually large pectoral fins, allowing fish to jump out of the water and carry out a short planning flight.

The body is elongated, with broad, high-positioned pectoral fins. Body length from 15 to 40-50 cm (Cheilopogon pinnatibarbatus). The coloration is gray-blue, without conspicuous transverse dark stripes. The dorsum is darker. Pectoral fins of different species can be transparent, blue, green, brown, with mottled spots or stripes. The snout is blunt, with the exception of Fodiator acutus. Teeth only on the jaws. The second ray of the pectoral fins to about the middle is bifurcated. The dorsal fin is strongly pushed backward, usually with 12-14 rays. Anal fin consists of 8-10 rays. The lower lobe of the caudal fin is elongated. Long pelvic fins with 6 rays. Swim bladder without an air duct to the foregut.

Widespread mainly in the tropics and subtropics. The area of distribution is restricted to waters with a temperature of 20 °C. There are more than 40 species in the Indo-Pacific. There are about 20 species in the eastern Pacific Ocean and 16 species in the Atlantic Ocean. There are 7 species of flying fish in the Red Sea and 4 species in the Mediterranean Sea. In summer, a number of species may migrate northward, swimming into the English Channel and up to the southern coasts of Norway and Denmark. Cheilopogon doederleinii has been repeatedly caught in Far Eastern waters, in Peter the Great Bay.

Held in small flocks, more often under the water surface. There are species found exclusively in the coastal zone, while others may live in the open ocean, returning to the coast to spawn; others permanently inhabit the open ocean. Feed on plankton, small crustaceans, winged mollusks and fish larvae. At night, flying fish are attracted to light.

In case of danger, sometimes without any apparent reason, they perform gliding hovering flight: with strong tail strokes, they quickly jump out of the water and soar through the air, using their broad pectoral fins. The ability to soar varies from species to species and depends on the size of the fish and the number of fins available for flight. 

The evolution of flight within the family apparently occurred in two directions. One of them led to the formation of flying fishes that use only pectoral fins for flight (a typical representative is Exocoetus volitans). The other direction is represented by flying fishes (4 genera and about 50 species) that use both enlarged pectoral and pelvic fins for flight.

Also, the adaptation to flight is reflected in the structure of the caudal fin, the rays of which are rigidly connected to each other and the lower blade is larger than the upper; in the development of a large swim bladder that continues under the spine all the way to the tail. The flight range of species with short pectoral fins is shorter than that of species with long fins. Species that use only the pectoral fins for hovering fly worse than species that use not only the pectoral fins but also the pelvic fins for flight. Fish can change the angle of the fins, affecting the direction of flight. Taking off at an angle of 30-45 degrees to the surface of the water, with an initial speed increasing from 30-35 to 80 km / h, the fish planes through the air, gradually descending back to the water. The height of flight can reach up to 5 meters. In most cases, the range of hovering flight is about 50 m, but these fish are able to use air currents over the water, increasing the range to 400 m. Flying fish are unable to control their flight, so it is not uncommon for them to crash into the side of a ship or fall to the deck.

The eggs are 0.5-0.8 mm in diameter and red-orange in color. The eggs are attached to algae, branches and fruits of land plants brought from the mainland, coconuts, bird feathers, and other floating debris.

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Flying fishes

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