Pelagic fish


A school of large pelagic predator fish (bluefin trevally) sizing up a school of small pelagic prey fish (anchovies)

Pelagic fish live in the pelagic zone of ocean or lake waters—being neither close to the bottom nor near the shore—in contrast with demersal fish that live on or near the bottom, and reef fish that are associated with coral reefs.[1]

The marine pelagic environment is the largest aquatic habitat on Earth, occupying 1,370 million cubic kilometres (330 million cubic miles), and is the habitat for 11% of known fish species. The oceans have a mean depth of 4,000 metres (2.5 miles). About 98% of the total water volume is below 100 metres (330 ft), and 75% is below 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).[2]

Marine pelagic fish can be divided into coastal (inshore) fish and oceanic (offshore) fish. Coastal pelagic fish inhabit the relatively shallow and sunlit waters above the continental shelf, while oceanic pelagic fish inhabit the vast and deep waters beyond the continental shelf (even though they also may swim inshore).[3][4]

Pelagic fish range in size from small coastal forage fish, such as herrings and sardines, to large apex predator oceanic fishes, such as bluefin tuna and oceanic sharks.[1] They are usually agile swimmers with streamlined bodies, capable of sustained cruising on long-distance migrations. Many pelagic fish swim in schools weighing hundreds of tonnes. Others, such as the large ocean sunfish, are solitary.[1] There are also freshwater pelagic fish in some of the larger lakes, such as the Lake Tanganyika sardine.[5]

  1. ^ a b c Lal, Brij V.; Fortune, Kate (2000). The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia. University of Hawaii Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-8248-2265-1.
  2. ^ Moyle and Cech, p. 585
  3. ^ McLintock, A H (ed.) (1966) "Pelagic". Te Ara – The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Accessed: 29 Sep 2022.
  4. ^ Walrond, Carl. "Oceanic fish". Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Accessed: 29 Sep 2022
  5. ^ Lake Tanganyika

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