Do Flying Fish Really Fly?

Flying Fish “fly” the same way a glider does, by gliding through the air. Therefore, they can only fly for a limited distance.

It used to be thought that they flap their fins very rapidly in order to stay up in the air. But with high-speed photography it was learned that they hold their fins absolutely still.

They do have a very powerful tail, however, and just before they leave the water to take off on one of their “flights”, they beat that tail back and forth very hard. It pushes them up and out of the water at a pretty good speed.

Then, if the wind is right, they may soar as high as 20 feet above the surface of the water. Sometimes they soar so high, they plop down on the deck of a passing ship!

Flying fish are about 15 inches long, and when their fins are held out, they have a “wingspan” of about 15 inches, too. They like the deep blue waters of the Atlantic and can be found all the way from England to Brazil.