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Istiophoridae
BLLFISHES
Sailfishes

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Overview
Main identification features
  • sword rounded
  • ds close together
  • tail fin base: 2 keels
  • with pelvics
FAMILY ISTIOPHORIDAE

BILLFISHES SAILFISHES, MARLINS

This family contains the billfishes, which are closely allied to the swordfish (Family (Xiphiidae). The swordfish has a flattened sword lacks jaw teeth, pelvic fins and scales, and has only one keel on the side of the tail base. Billfishes (Family Istiophoridae) have round swords, teeth, pelvic fins, and scales and have double keels on the base of the tail.

Billfishes, which are well known to gamefishermen and contains the marlins, spearfishes, and sailfishes. Billfishes are primarily oceanic, near surface pelagic animals that inhabit tropical and temperate seas, periodically entering colder waters. They are active, voracious predators that use the extended "bill" to attack and stun prey, generally fishes and squids. Because of their large size and renowned fighting ability billfishes are highly prized by anglers. However, the flesh is not particularly tasty. Charter-fishing boat operators are encouraged to promote tagging and release of captured fish rather than participating in their needless slaughter.

There are 11 species of billfishes in four genera in this tropical to temperate, circumglobal family. In our region there are four Indo-Pacific species.


References
  • Abbott, J.F., 1899., The marine fishes of Peru., Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., 51:324-364.
  • Abitia-Cardenas, L.A., Galván-Magaña, F., Rodríguez-Romero, J., 1997., Food habits and energy values of prey of striped marlin, Tetrapturus audax, off the coast of Mexico., Fishery Bulletin, 95:360-368.
  • Acero, A. and Franke, R., 2001., Peces del parque nacional natural Gorgona. En: Barrios, L. M. y M. Lopéz-Victoria (Eds.). Gorgona marina: Contribución al conocimiento de una isla única., INVEMAR, Serie Publicaciones Especiales No. 7:123-131.
  • Briggs, J.C., 1960., Fishes of worldwide (circumtropical) distribution., Copeia, 1960:171-180.
  • Béarez, P., 1996., Lista de los Peces Marinos del Ecuador Continental., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 44:731-741.
  • Castro-Aguirre, J.L. and Balart, E.F., 2002., La ictiofauna de las islas Revillagigedos y sus relaciones zoogeograficas, con comentarios acerca de su origen y evolucion. En: Lozano-Vilano, M. L. (Ed.). Libro Jubilar en Honor al Dr. Salvador Contreras Balderas., Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León:153-170.
  • Cuvier , G. and Valenciennes, A., 1832., Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome huitième. Livre neuvième. Des Scombéroïdes., Histoire Naturelle Des Poissons, 8:1-509.
  • Eschmeyer , W. N. , Herald , E. S. and Hamman, H., 1983., A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California. Peterson Field Guide Ser. 28., Houghton Mifflin:336pp.
  • Findley, L.T., Hendrickx, M.E., Brusca, R.C., van der Heiden, A.M., Hastings, P.A., Torre, J., 2003., Diversidad de la Macrofauna Marina del Golfo de California, Mexico., CD-ROM versión 1.0. Projecto de la Macrofauna del Golfo .  Derechos reservados de los autores y Conservación Internacional.
  • Fowler, H.W., 1944., Results of the Fifth George Vanderbilt Expedition (1941) (Bahamas, Caribbean sea, Panama, Galapagos Archipelago and Mexican Pacific Islands). The Fishes., Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadel., Monographs, 6:57-529.
  • Franke , R. and Acero P., A., 1996., Peces óseos comerciales del Parque Gorgona, Pacífico colombiano (Osteichthyes: Muraenesocidae, Hemiramphidae, Belonidae, Scorpaenidae, Triglidae, Malacanthidae, Gerridae, Sparidae, Kyphosidae, Sphyraenidae e Istiophoridae)., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 44:763-770.
  • Galván-Magaña, F., Gutiérrez-Sánchez, F., Abitia-Cárdenas, L.A., Rodríguez-Romero, J., 2000., The distribution and affinities of the shore fishes of the Baja California Sur lagoons. In Aquatic Ecosystems of Mexico: Status and Scope. Eds. M. Manuwar, S.G. Lawrence, I.F. Manuwar & D.F. Malley. Ecovision World Monograph Series., Backhuys Publishers:383-398.
  • Graves , J. E. and McDowell, J. R., 1995., Inter-ocean genetic divergence of istiophorid billfishes., Marine Biology, 122:193-203.
  • Grove , J.S. and Lavenberg, R. J., 1997., The fishes of the Galápagos islands., Stanford University Press:863 pp.
  • Jimenez-Prado, P., Béarez, P., 2004., Peces marinos del Ecuador continental / Marine fishes of continental Ecuador., SIMBIOE/NAZCA/IFEA tomo 1 y 2.
  • Jordan , and Snyder,., 1901., Descriptions of nine new species of fishes contained in museums of Japan., J. Coll. Sci. Imp. Univ. Tokyo, 15:301-311.
  • Joseph , J. , Klawe , W. and Murphy, P., 1988., Tuna and Billfish - fish without a country., Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission:69.
  • Lopez , M. I. and Bussing, W. A., 1982., Lista provisional de los peces marinos de la Costa Rica., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 30(1):5-26.
  • Love, M.S., Mecklenburg, C.W., Mecklenburg, T.A., Thorsteinson, L.K., 2005., es of the West Coast and Alaska: a checklist of North Pacific and Artic Ocena species from Baja California to the Alaska-Yukon border., U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, 288pp.
  • Madrid Vera , J. , Ruíz Luna , A. and Rosado Bravo, I., 1998., Peces de la plataforma continental de Michoacán y sus relaciones regionales en el Pacífico mexicano., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 42(2):267-276.
  • Molina, L., Danulat, E., Oviedo, M., González, J.A., 2004., Guía de especies de interés pesquero en la Reserva Marina de Galápagos., Fundación Charles Darwin / Agencia Espeñola de Cooperación Internacional / Dirección Parque Nacional Galápagos, 115pp.
  • Nakamura,., 1985., Billfishes of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. FAO species catalogue Vol. 5., FAO Fish. Synop. No 125, 125.
  • Philippi, R. A., 1887., Historia natural.--Sobre los tiburones y algunos otros peces de Chile. [Plus:] Apendice sobre el peje-espada, peje-aguja, peje-perro i vieja negra., An. Univ. Santiago Chile, 71:535-574.
  • Ramírez Rodríguez, M., 1997., Producción pesquera en la Bahía de La Paz, B.C.S.. En Urbán Ramírez, J. y M. Ramírez Rodríguez (Eds.). La Bahía de La Paz investigación y conservación., Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur:273-282.
  • Ricker, K.E., 1959., Mexican shore and pelagic fishes collected from Acapulco to Cape San Lucas during the 1957 cruise of the "Marijean"., Univ. Brit. Columbia Inst. Fish., Mus. Contrib., 3:18pp.
  • Rodríguez-Romero, J., Abitia-Cardenas, L.A., Aguilar-Palomino, B., 1993., Range extension and first record of some marine fish in Baja California, Mexico., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 41:917-919.
  • Shaw , G. and Nodder, F. P., 1813., The Naturalist's Miscellany, or coloured figures of natural objects; drawn and described from nature. London., Naturalist's Misc., :unnumbered pages.
  • Tanaka, S., 1915., Figures and descriptions of the fishes of Japan including Riukiu Islands, Bonin Islands, Formosa, Kurile Islands, Korea and southern Sakhalin., Fig. Descr. Fish. Japan, 19:319-342.
  • Van der Heiden , A. M. and Findley, L. T., 1988., Lista de los peces marinos del sur de Sinaloa, México., Anales del Centro de Ciencias del Mar y Limnologia de la Universidad Autonoma Nacional de Mexico, 15:209-224.

Acknowledgements

I thank Ashley MacDonald and John Pickering, University of Georgia, for technical support in building this page.


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