Flyingfish are tropical planktivores and inhabit the upper few meters of the water surface throughout their lives. They are preyed upon by predatory fishes, many seabirds, and some cetaceans. Although their taxonomy can be problematic, all are easily identified to genus. They are attracted to lights and so, can be captured alive at night, and they are readily flushed from the water by predators or ships and so, can be visually sampled during the day.
Our flyingfish research consists of two parts: a) specimen collection during an hour-long evening station using dipnets and lights pointed into the water, and b) visual census of flyingfish flushed by the ship while underway during the day using modified strip transect methods. Specimens will be used to revise the phylogeny of this group. Specimens and visual census data will be used to determine abundance and distribution patterns and to correlate these with oceanographic parameters. Our database is extensive for the eastern tropical Pacific. We also have specimens and visual census data from the western tropical Indian Ocean, and specimens from the Gulf of Mexico. (Contact Robert L. Pitman)