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Needlefishes and Relatives: Beloniformes

Californian Needlefish (strongylura Exilis): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Californian needlefish reach a length of about 39 inches (1 meter). The body is very thin and has a long snout and sharp teeth. The tail fin is notched but does not have a deep fork.

Californian needlefish sometimes form large schools. They leap out of the water when threatened. (Illustration by Wendy Baker. Reproduced by permission.)

Geographic range: Californian needlefish live along the coast of North and South America from California to Peru. They also live around the Galápagos Islands.

Habitat: Californian needlefish live in lagoons, harbors, and coastal areas. They frequent mangrove forests and enter freshwater.

Diet: Californian needlefish feed on small fishes.

Behavior and reproduction: Californian needlefish sometimes form large schools. They leap out of the water when threatened. The eggs of these fish are attached to floating plants by long threads. The larvae drift in surface waters. The eggs hatch about two weeks after being released.

Californian needlefish and people: Californian needlefish are sold fresh in fish markets. In rare cases, these fish cause injury or death by impalement.

Conservation status: Californian needlefish are not threatened or endangered. ∎



Byatt, Andrew, Alastair Fothergill, and Martha Holmes. Blue Planet. New York: DK, 2001.

Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Web sites:

"Flying Fish!!!" OceanLink. http://oceanlink.island.net/oinfo/biodiversity/flyingfish/flyingfish.html (accessed on October 11, 2004).

Scott, Susan. "Needlefish." Hawaiian Lifeguard Association. http://www.aloha.com/lifeguards/needle.html (accessed on October 11, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesNeedlefishes and Relatives: Beloniformes - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, California Flyingfish (cheilopogon Pinnatibarbatus Californicus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, THEIR RELATIVES NEED