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Unexpected danger in the sea – flying spears




NEEDLEFISH, as their name suggests, are long, narrow, silvery, thin streamlined body with needlelike beaks, which are filled with sharp teeth. These beaks together with their sword-shaped thin bodies, sometimes, become dangerous living spears if you happen to be in their way in the sea.

Like their other close rela­tives, the flying fish, needlefish can leap from water at high speed of 60 km/h, skimming the surface before falling back to the water. It is mostly found in the temperate and tropical water.

The smaller common species reach about 40cm long; the largest ones can grow to 1.5 m. It is neither one of the largest fishes in the ocean nor the fiercest, but they can pose a threat to humans.

These predatory fish are shal­low water fishes. They school at the surface of the water. Since they stay near the surface of the water, they tend to leap when they are excited or threatened by artificial light, especially at night. Areas across the Pacific Ocean have had in­stances where the fishermen and divers have been victim­ized by needlefish. Jumping out of the water at high speed of 60km/h, their sharp beaks can puncture the human body and the beak might break inside the body. Needlefish beaks have penetrated the wooden hulls of outrigger ca­noes. People at greatest risk of needlefish punctures are night reef fishermen carrying lights in low boats. For many village fishermen in the Pacific, needlefish are a greater risk than sharks.

At night, sudden lights frighten needlefish and they try to escape in all directions, and you happen to be in their way – you might get severely injured or even killed when stabbed by a needlefish in the face, through the eye into the brain or the heart.