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Any of about 40 species of oceanic fishes (family Exocoetidae). They are found worldwide in warm waters and are noted for their ability to fly. All species are less than 18 in. (45 cm) long and have winglike, rigid fins and an unevenly forked tail. Two-winged species have only the pectoral fins enlarged; four-winged species have both the pectoral and the pelvic fins enlarged. Rather than flying, they actually glide after jumping from the water. They can make several consecutive glides; the strongest fliers can travel as much as 600 ft (180 m) in a single glide, and compound glides may cover 1,300 ft (400 m). The behaviour is primarily a means of escaping predators.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on flying fish, visit Britannica.com.