Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

Español  Contact

Species: Istiophorus platypterus, Sailfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

+/- ~20 blue bars
D1 = large long sail, dark blue + black spots
pelvics very long, thin

Istiophorus platypterus (Shaw in Shaw & Nodder, 1792)


Body fairly compressed; bill long, slender, rounded in cross section; adults with small teeth; 1st dorsal fin long based, sail like, much higher than body depth, close to small 2nd dorsal, 1st 42-49 rays, 2nd 6-7 rays; pectoral fins long and pointed, 18-20 rays; pelvic fins very long, reach almost to anus; 2 anal fins, 1st 12-17 rays, 2nd 6-7 rays; 2 keels on side of tail base; tail fin large, strongly forked; body covered with small, triangular scales; lateral line visible, curved over pectoral, straight to base of tail fin.

Dark blue dorsally, light blue blotched with brown laterally, and silvery white ventrally; may display ~ 20 vertical bars on sides, each composed of many light blue round spots; membrane of first dorsal fin dark blue or blackish blue, with scattered, small black spots; remaining fins blackish brown to dark blue.

Size: grows to 360 cm; all-tackle world record 100.24 kg.

Habitat: coastal and oceanic pelagic.

Depth: 0-100 m.

Circumtropical in tropical and temperate seas; N Carolina to N Brazil

Note: Other than the fact that Indo-Pacific fish reach a larger size than Atlantic fish (100 kg vs 60 kg) there are no morphological differences between the two (see Collette et al 2006).

High Resolution Map Download

Species Data Create Report Export as Word File Export as Excel File
  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • In & Offshore
  • Inshore
  • Offshore
Water Column Position
  • Mid Water
  • Near Surface
  • Surface
  • Water column only
  • Water column
FishBase Habitat
  • Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Bony fishes
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Pelagic crustacea
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 360
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 100