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FISH SPECIES : SPEARFISH
Other names: 

longbill spearfish, shortbill spearfish, shortnose spearfish, slender spearfish, Mediterranean spearfish

Scientific name: Tetrapturus pfluegeri/Tetrapturus angustirostris/ Tetrapturus belone
Genus: 
ISTIOPHORIDAE FAMILY


It is common throughout the tropical Atlantic, south Argentina and may range as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the summer months. A pelagic, migratory, deep water species, it may form schools composed of 50,000 or more individuals.


The longbill spearfish is known to occur in the northwest Atlantic from New Jersey to Venezuela, including the Gulf of Mexico. The shortbill spearfish is known in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The Mediterranean spearfish is known to occur only in the Mediterranean Sea. It can be distinguished from other billfishes by its slender, lightweight body, short bill, and its dorsal fin which is highest anteriorly.

The bill of the shortbill spearfish is barely longer than its lower jaw, whereas in the longbill spearfish it is about twice as long, but still quite short by billfish standards. The pectoral fins of the shortbill and Mediterranean spearfishes barely reach to the curve of the lateral line. In the longbill spearfish they extend beyond the curve. The longbill spearfish has more elements (45 to 53) in the first dorsal fin than any other Atlantic billfish.

They are pelagic, off shore, deep-water fishes. They feed at or near the surface, mainly on small and medium-sized fishes and squids, including dolphin, sauries, flying fish, needlefish and pilot fish. They appear to be available all year in small numbers.

Fishing methods are the same as for other billfish but with lighter tackle.
Available data indicate that the longbill spearfish matures by the age of two and rarely lives past three years of age. Maximum age may be four to are years. Some scientists believe that a fourth species of spearfish (tetrapturus georgei; Lowe, 1840) exists. Called the roundscale spearfish, it occurs around Sicily, Portugal, and Spain and is said to resemble the so-called hatchet marlin.

   
 
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