shortbill spearfish, shortnose spearfish, slender spearfish, Mediterranean
pfluegeri/Tetrapturus angustirostris/ Tetrapturus belone
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
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.