sailfish, common name for a marine game and food fish, genus Istiophorus, belonging to the family Istiophoridae and related to the marlin. It is named for its high, wide dorsal fin (or
sail), colored deep blue with black spots. Like the marlin it has a pikelike upper jaw and small scales embedded in its skin. The average length is 6 ft (180 cm), though it may reach 10 ft (305 cm). The Pacific, or Indo-Pacific, sailfish (I. platypterus) grows to 100 lb (45 kg). The Atlantic sailfish, found north to Cape Cod in summer and sometimes classified as a separate species (I. albicans), averages 60 lb (27 kg) in weight. The dorsal fin is not normally erect while swimming but is raised when the sailfish is excited or threatened; it also is used to herd the small fish that the sailfish preys on. The bill is used to swat and confuse, stun, or injure prey. Sailfish are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, family Istiophoridae.
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