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Brief Facts

Fish

gar pike, cutlass fish, globefish, Rhincodon typus, Xiphias gladius

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Puffer

Puffer, any of about 120 species of fishes that mostly live in tropical seas, but a few occur in fresh or brackish waters. The teeth of the upper and lower jaws are separately fused with a vertical gap in front. Like the related porcupine fish, the puffer uses its beaklike teeth for feeding on corals or hardshelled animals. Puffers are usually about 45 cm (about 18 in) long, although some species are larger. Also called blowfish and globefish, they are named for their habit of inflating themselves with water or air when threatened. Puffers are used as food fishes, but some species are very poisonous unless prepared properly.

Scientific classification: Puffers make up the family Tetraodontidae of the order Tetraodontiformes.

Swordfish

Swordfish, common name applied to a large, marine, acanthopterygian (spiny-finned) fish found in tropical and subtropical seas. The swordfish averages about 113 kg (about 250 lb), but individual fish have been caught that weigh more than four times that much. The swordfish has a large dorsal fin, lacks pelvic fins, and is characterized by the fusion and prolongation of the bones of the upper jaw to form a rigid, swordlike beak that often constitutes one-third of the total body length. Swordfish feed on large mollusks and on other fish; the adult swordfish has no teeth. Swordfish meat is edible and nutritious, and swordfish hunting is a profitable sport. Swordfish are hunted with harpoons as well as with big-game fishing equipment. The swordfish is also known as the broadbill, and the name swordfish is sometimes applied to the gar pike and to the cutlass fish.

Scientific classification: The swordfish, classified as Xiphias gladius, is the only member of the family Xiphiidae.

Whale Shark

Whale Shark, common name for the largest known fish, native to tropical seas around the world. The whale shark may attain a length of more than 15 m (more than 50 ft) and weigh more than 18 metric tons. Deep blue above and white below, it is darker in color than most sharks, but its body is marked with white spots and vertical lines; on its head and back are several broad, longitudinal ridges. The animal has a wide, flattened snout with the mouth at the front, not below, and its jaws hold numerous small teeth. The gill openings are exceptionally large. The whale shark feeds on small fishes and plankton strained out of the seawater by its long gill rakers; it is harmless to humans. Young whale sharks hatch from fertilized eggs inside the body of the female and are then born alive to the outside.

Scientific classification: The whale shark makes up the family Rhincodontidae of the order Lamniformes. It is classified as Rhincodon typus.



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