Flying Fish in Flight Over the Ocean, Barbados Pocket GuideBarbados - Land of the Flying Fish

Flying fish (Hirundichthys affinis) is a genus of flying fish that live in warm tropical and subtropical waters. There are about 13 species of this fish but the industry in Barbados is predominantly focused on the Hirundichthys affinis species only.



Flying fish have moderately thick, elongated bodies that appear flattened. Contrary to what the name suggests, flying fish don't actually fly but rather glide through the air. They swim close to the water's surface and have the ability to reach speeds of approximately 15-20 mph. Powerful and rapid movements from their tails enable them to break the water's surface and then accelerating to speeds of approximately 40 miles per hour. With full usage of their large pectoral fins, they are able to glide through the air at seemingly rocket-like speeds to avoid predators such as swordfish, tunas and other large fish. Another possible reason for 'taking flight' could very well be in search of food.



In Barbados, flying fish are plentiful between December and June. There are many ways in which the people of Barbados prepare this Bajan delicacy. Steamed, fried, baked or pickled, you can be rest assured that it will be enjoyed by all.


The male sex organs of the flying fish are called melts and the female sex organs are called roes. In Barbados, these are also seen as delicacies.


Fish Scaling in Barbados

Fish scaling in Barbados is indeed a sight to behold. Perfection is accomplished as a result of this fine art which involves a great measure of meticulousness coupled with focus and expertise.


During the Oistins Fish Festival, the premier event of fish scaling and boning attracts thousands of on-lookers who stand in awe at the expertise exhibited by these craftsmen adn women.


Maritime Border Issues

The waters in Tobago have been responsible for the significant amount of flying fish that have been caught by fishermen from Barbados. This has resulted in ongoing disputes between the two countries.


National Symbol of Barbados

The culture in Barbados is quite influenced by the flying fish as it serves as a national symbol on the island. Examples of these are seen in the dollar coin which bears an image of a flying fish and not to mention, Barbados' national dish which is coucou and flying fish.


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