First recognized as a species in the late 1700's, the Atlantic sailfish has the scientific name of either Istiophorus albicans or Istiophorus platypterus. The former, more commonly used name distinguishes it from the Pacific Sailfish. Scientists still disagree on whether the two are in fact different species, but a total of 34 parasitic species have been recorded from the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean range of sailfish.
The Atlantic sailfish is one of the smaller members of the Family Istiophoridae, with a maximum size of about 3.0 to 3.4 m (10 - 11,1 ft) in length and 100 kilograms (220 lbs.). Females are generally larger than males. Distinguishing features include a bill-shaped upper jaw, which is circular in cross-section and about twice the length of the lower jaw. The first of the fish's two dorsal fins is very long and tall (hence the name "sailfish"), running most of the length of the body, with the 20th ray as the longest.
The first anal fin is set far back on the body, and the second dorsal and anal fins are both concave and short, nearly mirroring each other in size and shape.
This beautiful billfish natural habitat is in warmer ocean waters, and is an acrobatic fighter that spends a lot of its time in the air. The Atlantic Sailfish is prized as a mount for its colorful sail and shimmering blue coloration. It is also known as the Ballerina of the Sea.