Flying fish (Exocoetidae) can be seen jumping out of warm ocean waters worldwide. Their streamlined torpedo shape helps them gather enough underwater speed to break the surface, and their large, wing-like pectoral fins get them airborne.
There are about 40 known species of flying fish. Beyond their useful pectoral fins, all have unevenly forked tails, with the lower lobe longer than the upper lobe. Many species have enlarged pelvic fins as well and are known as four-winged flying fish.
The process of taking flight, or gliding, begins by gaining great velocity underwater, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) per hour. Angling upward, the four-winged flying fish breaks the surface and begins to taxi by rapidly beating its tail while it is still beneath the surface. It then takes to the air, sometimes reaching heights over 4 feet (1.2 meters) and gliding long distances, up to 655 feet (200 meters). Once it nears the surface again, it can flap its tail and taxi without fully returning to the water. Capable of continuing its flight in such a manner, flying fish have been recorded stretching out their flights with consecutive glides spanning distances up to 1,312 feet (400 meters).
Joyce Lin is a student at the Rhode Island School of Design and in her spare time she creates awesome interactive kinetic sculptures like the beautiful flying fish and bird study pieces pictured here. Although the design and construction process must’ve been painstaking, they were made using simple materials such as popsicle sticks, mylar and tracing vellum.
Speaking about her work she says, “When people view and activate my sculptures, I would like them to feel a kind of childlike awe and wonderment while being reminded that we are part of an infinite chain of systems within systems.”
Instead of the usual talk about pollution and global warming, I would like to dedicate this drawing to the beauty we still have left on our planet. There is still so much left to protect and so many mysteries of nature left to discover. This ecosystem that sustains our life is so full of wonder.
Don’t ever lose touch with your origin. This blue planet is our home. Cherish it.
Natural selection has produced some amazing ways of getting around.
Behold, the flying fish! These fish don’t actually fly, but to avoid their many predators—marlin, tuna and mackerel, among others—they gather speed underwater, break the surface and glide for up to 650 feet (200 meters)!