Guinness World Records 2015 - page 15

FACT
There are more fish
in the Amazon River
than there are in all
of Europe.
Longest fin
All three species of thresher shark (family
Alopiidae) have a huge, scythe-shaped caudal
(tail) fin that is roughly as long as the body
itself. The largest and most common species,
Alopias vulpinus
, found worldwide in temperate
and tropical seas, grows to 6 m (19 ft 8 in) in
length, of which almost 3 m (9 ft 10 in) consists
of this greatly elongated upper tail fin.
Heaviest bony fish
The ocean sunfish (
Mola mola
) has been recorded weighing 1,995 kg
(4,400 lb) and measuring 3 m (10 ft) from fin tip to fin tip.
Mola mola
named from the Latin for “millstone” in reference to its shape – is found
in all oceans in tropical or temperate climates and feeds on zooplankton,
small fishes and algae. Sharks and rays, by contrast, are cartilaginous,
not bony as in the case of the ocean sunfish.
Fastest fish
The cosmopolitan
sailfish (
Istiophorus
platypterus
) is
considered to be
the fastest species
of fish over short
distances, although
practical difficulties
make measurements
extremely hard to
secure. Trials at the
Long Key Fishing
Camp in Florida, USA,
suggested a top speed
of 109 km/h (68 mph).
057
FACT
Thresher sharks are
believed to use their
tails to herd and
then stun schools
of milling fish ready
for eating.
The
largest predatory fish
is the great white
shark (
Carcharodon carcharias
, from the Greek
for “sharp-toothed”). Adults average 4.3–4.6 m
in length – as long as a typical family saloon car
– and generally weigh 900 kg. There is plenty of
circumstantial evidence to suggest that some
great whites grow to more than 6 m in length,
and there have even been claims of huge
specimens up to 10 m long. Pictured here is a
lucky seal escaping the jaws of a great white,
snapped in Jul 2013 off the coast of Seal Island,
South Africa, by photographer David Jenkins.
Shark attack:
great white shark
water in Europe,
before abruptly
evolving into breeding
condition, changing colour to
become silver, and growing a
longer snout and larger eyes.
The much-altered animal then
begins a marathon trek to the
species’ spawning grounds
in the Sargasso Sea, east
of North America.
Most venomous fish
Poisonous creatures contain
poison within their bodies,
which they pass on to any
creatures that consume,
or even touch them,
while venomous
creatures inject
venom into their victims.
The stonefish (family
Synanceiidae) of the tropical
waters of the Indo-Pacific
are highly venomous.
Synanceia horrida
has
the largest venom
glands of any known
fish. Direct contact with
the spines of its fins, which
contain a strong neurotoxic
poison, can prove fatal.
The
most poisonous
fish
is the puffer fish
(
Tetraodon
) of the Red Sea
and Indo-Pacific region,
which produces a fatally
poisonous toxin called
tetrodotoxin. Its ovaries,
eggs, blood, liver, intestines
and, to a lesser extent, its
skin, contain tetrodotoxin.
Less than 0.1 g (0.004 oz)
of this is enough to kill a
human adult in as little
as 20 min.
Most ferocious
freshwater fish
Piranhas are renowned
for their ferocity,
particularly those of the
genera
Serrasalmus
and
Pygocentrus
, found in
the large rivers of South
America. Attracted to blood
and frantic splashing, a
school of piranhas can within
minutes strip an animal as
large as a horse of its flesh,
leaving only its skeleton.
Philippines. Males are only
7.5–9.9 mm (0.29–0.38 in)
long and weigh just 4–5 mg.
Highest living fish
The Tibetan loach (family
Cobitidae) is found at an
altitude of 5,200 m (17,060 ft)
in the Himalayas.
Longest fish migration
Many fish species undertake
long annual migrations
between their feeding
grounds. The longest
straight-line distance known
to have been covered by a
fish is 9,335 km (5,800 mi)
for a bluefin tuna (
Thunnus
thynnus
) that was dart-
tagged off Baja California,
Mexico, in 1958, and caught
483 km (300 mi) south of
Tokyo, Japan, in Apr 1963.
The
longest journey by
a freshwater fish
is some
4,800–6,400 km (3,000–
4,000 mi), taking about six
months, by the European
eel (
Anguilla anguilla
). This
species spends between
seven and 15 years in fresh
FACT
Technically, there is no
such thing as a “fish” –
the creatures on these
pages are from many
different animal families.
Freshwater
giant
According to our 1955
edition, the
largest
freshwater fish
was the
6.7-m-long giant Russian
sturgeon (
Acipenser
), found
in the Volga River. “However,
we now know that this is not
an exclusively freshwater
species,” says our animal
consultant Dr Karl Shuker.
“At 3 m, the largest fish that
spends its whole life in fresh
water is Asia’s Mekong giant
catfish.” (see p.56)
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