Luis Lopez / EyeEm

Land of the Flying Fish

  • TEXT ANDREA FREUND

Barbados, the easternmost of the Lesser Antilles, is ­famous for its agile glide

  The common dolphinfish, or mahi-mahi, is admirably equipped to catch its favorite food. It has pointed teeth, a two-meter-long body and a dorsal fin as good as any shark’s to plow the ocean waves. It hunts its prey, a bony fish roughly 30 centimeters long, off the Caribbean island of Barbados. But this little fish is an escape artist, and simply switches elements and flees into the air – with its two pairs of wings.

WaterFrame / Alamy Stock Photo

  This is how it goes into flight mode: With its large pectoral fins flat against its cigar-shaped body, it picks up speed as it nears the water’s surface. Emerging from the waves, it spreads its pectoral fins as well as two, smaller, pelvic fins and then pushes its tailfin against the water to eject itself into the air. According to Sonia Bejarano, a reef ecologist at the Leibniz Center of Tropical Marine Ecology in Bremen, Germany, once it reaches cruising altitude, “It can fly 50 meters. But if it drops its tailfin back onto the water for a second thrust, it can travel up to 400 meters in 30 seconds.” Unless, of course, it’s snapped up in the air by a frigatebird or pulled from the ocean by a fisherman.

Flying fish and Barbados belong together, like the island’s sandy beaches and the turquoise ocean. These winged artistes are pictured in the back of the Barbados dollar coin and every year, at Easter, a festival is held in their honor at the port of Oistins.


GETTING THERE

Starting October 28, Lufthansa is offering three weekly flights from Frankfurt (FRA) to Bridgetown (BGI) in cooperation with Eurowings.
Use the app to ­calculate your miles:
miles-and-more.com/app