Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus)
Family Istiophoridae, Billfishes
Description: color dark blue on top, brown-blue
laterally, silvery white underbelly; upper jaw elongated in form of spear; first dorsal
greatly enlarged in the form of a sail, with many black spots, its front squared off,
highest at its midpoint; pelvic fins very narrow, reaching almost to the anus; body
covered with imbedded scales, blunt at end; lateral line curved over pectoral, then
straight to base of tail.
Similar fish: white marlin, T. albidus,
young blue marlin, M. nigricans (spectacular sail-like dorsal of sailfish is most
Where found: OFFSHORE species, in south Florida
associated with waters near the Gulf Stream; off the Panhandle near the 100-fathom line.
Size: common to 7 feet.
Remarks: rapid growing species, reaching 4 to 5
feet in a single year; swims at speeds up to 50 knots; feeds on the surface or at
mid-depths on smaller pelagic fishes and squid.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Marine Resources, Office of
Fisheries Management and Assistance Services
Revised - 12/14/02 04:19 PM