Needlefish- Houndfish or Flat Needlefish

The local fisherman spend a lot of time fishing for these types of fish, either from the bridge, off the dock or in the shallow waters. Arthur loves joining them, and has nearly caught a couple himself. This fish was given to Arthur because it was too small. We haven’t been able to identify him for definite, and the picture we have isn’t very clear. Its appearance is more close to a Flat Needlefish- it is blue-ish green with dark bars on the body, but it doesn’t have the black patch on the dorsal fin. It looks too blue-ish green to be a Houndfish, and we can’t see from the picture black keels on the tail base; however, Houndfish are found inshore, over flats, reefs and seagrass, similar to where this specimen was caught. The Flat Needlefish is only occasionally found inshore.

All needlefish feed primarily on smaller fishes, though some species also eat krill, swimming crustaceans, and small cephalopods. According to Wikipedia “Needlefish have been documented in taking advantage of Snell’s Window when attacking prey; leaping at a shallow angle to ambush schools of small fish. Due to light refraction through water, objects at the edges of the window appear distorted, disrupting the image of the leaping needlefish and allowing it to get within very short distances of its prey.” This explains why the fisherman have so much success here catching Needlefish using baitfish caught with small cast nets- they drag the baitfish along the surface once the Needlefish show an interest, with the Needlefish remaining at the surface and attempting to grab the bait.

“For many traditional Pacific Islander communities, who primarily fish on reefs from low boats, needlefish represent an even greater risk of injury than sharks.”; the fish can leap from the water at up to 60kmh, and their beaks can cause deep puncture wounds! So far we haven’t seen any evidence of injury, but the locals are pretty wary when they haul in a large specimen!