A-z - Animals

wah wah fish

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want to fish and eat

Although a member of the mackerel family, wahoo is neither tuna, mackerel, nor skipjack. However, this excellent bluebait is prized for its resistance to the bait and the sweetness of its firm white flesh, which can be a bit pricey at the fish store. Although commercially available in large numbers, its prodigious reproduction rate may keep the popular wahoo off the endangered list.

wahoo-fish-1

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Five Surprising Facts About Wahu Fish

Here are five surprising facts about wahoo fish:

  1. One of the wahoo's other names, ono, means "delicious" in Hawaiian, and the wahoo is prized for the amazing flavor of its meat. Other names include "hoo," Kingfish, Queenfish, jack mackerel, and barracuda.
  2. Scientists are studying goby populations and how they relate to those in other parts of the world.
  3. Wahoos often harbor giant stomach worms, but it doesn't seem to bother them or affect the taste, flavor, or health of their meat.
  4. Unlike some other scombroid fish, wahoo are not warm-blooded.
  5. Unusually for a fish, both jaws of the wahwah are movable.
wah wah school of fish
There is only one species of bass, although there are slightly different species of bass in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific.

©orifec_a31/Shutterstock.com

taxonomic name

The scientific name of the wahoo fish is Acanthocybium solandri. Acanthocybium comes from akantha , Greek for "thorn," and kybion , Greek for "tuna." Solandri comes from Daniel Carl Solander, a student of the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus. There is only one species, although there are subtle differences between wahoos in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific.

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evolution

The earliest vertebrates are thought to be the ancestors of the hagfish, whose fossils date back to about 550 million years ago. About 450 million years ago, the first fossils of cartilaginous fishes with shark-like jaws appeared in the fossil record. About 50 million years later, bony fishes followed. The bony fish eventually evolved into the most diverse and prominent group of fish—including the wahoo.

Wah wah fish on white background
Wahoo fish have a long, torpedo-shaped body.

©Bignai/Shutterstock.com

appearance

The wahoo is a striking fish with a long, somewhat compressed, torpedo-shaped body. It has small, silvery scales with blue stripes on the sides and an iridescent blue back. These bright colors fade soon after the fish dies. It has a pointed head and a long, beak-like snout with small but very sharp teeth. Large gobies can be over 8 feet long and weigh over 180 pounds, but most gobies are smaller than that. It has two dorsal fins that are not well separated. The first has 24 to 26 spines, while the second has 9. The tail is somewhat crescent-shaped, and the stem of the tail is lined with small, attractive finlets.

Barracuda circling in strong currents at Paradise Reef in Cozumel
A Barracuda was similar in appearance to a wahoo, but had a prominent lower jaw and longer, dagger-like teeth.

© Laban712 – Public Domain

Wahoo Fish vs. Barracuda

It's easy to mistake a wahoo for a barracuda, as the two are similar in color and can grow to roughly the same size. However, barracudas have a more snake-like body, with large scales and long jaws with underbites. Most importantly, its teeth are much larger and more dagger-like than those of the wahoo. Its dorsal fin is separated, and it lacks the small fin on the tail, belonging to the wahoo. Interestingly, on the British island of St. Helena, scallops are known as barracudas, although the two fish are not related.

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Distribution, Population and Habitat

The wahoo lives in warmer regions of the world's oceans. It lies somewhere in the middle of the water column, avoiding the depths of the ocean and coastline. It appears to be an abundant fish whose numbers are considered stable by biologists and whose conservation status is of least concern.

predator and prey

OCEARCH can track tagged sharks while cruising on the surface.
Sharks prey on wahoo fish.

© iStock.com/Martin Hein

While the wahoo is not the largest predatory fish, it is ferocious and preys on smaller fish such as mahi mahi, mahi mahi, flying fish, porcupine fish, and even smaller fish from its close relative the tuna. It also eats squid and octopus. As for predators, it is preyed on by sharks and rays, including silvertip sharks in the Indo-Pacific.

Reproduction and Lifespan

The wahoo is one of the fastest fish in the world and its food consists of other fish and squid which are easy to catch due to their speed.
The wahoo's diet consists of other fish and squid, which are easy to catch due to their speed.

© Neophuket/Shutterstock.com

Mackerel reproduction is surprisingly mysterious, but scientists know that their spawning seasons are so long that not all fish start spawning at one time. Female wahoos can release millions of eggs in a single season, which are fertilized in vitro by males. After that, parents no longer take care of their children. After the larvae hatch, they grow very quickly and are ready to reproduce themselves when they are about a year old. The rate at which a fish reproduces and grows may be what keeps it from being overfished, but it may come at a price. Wahwa fish is not a long-lived species, and its life span is only about six years, which is a little longer.

fishing and cooking

The wahwah's speed and ferocity make it a sought-after game of prey. This fish is best lured by trolling and natural bait such as mullet. In addition to being a game fish, the wahoo is also highly regarded as a food. Its meat has a pleasant taste, without the oiliness or fishy smell that can sometimes be seen on mackerel. Recipes for preparing wahoo include grilling, frying, or preparing the fish in several other ways. However, as predators of small fish, wahoo may be at risk for high mercury levels and ciguatera.

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A fisherman holds a wahoo fish
Wahoo fish can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh more than 180 pounds, but most are much smaller.

©Fabien Monteil/Shutterstock.com

population

Biologists don't know the exact size of the wahoo population, but the fish appears to be plentiful and not threatened by overfishing.

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The wahoo is considered a delicious fish with a mild and refreshing taste. Unlike its cousin mackerel, the meat of sea bass is not greasy. The flakes are round and the flesh remains white even when cooked. There are baked wahoo recipes, grill recipes and poached recipes. Prices for the wahoo vary weekly and can be quite high, as this usually solitary and fast-swimming fish is difficult to catch.

The flavor of the wahoo has been described as mild, a bit like veal, and some people who don't normally like the smell of fish will happily eat wahoo.

The wahoo is not tuna, but is related to it. Both are members of the scombroid family. In fact, bass is more closely related to mackerel.

The wahoo is not the same as the barracuda, although it is known as a barracuda in the South Atlantic on the island of St. Helena.