It’s hard to believe that the fastest animal in the ocean has a maximum speed that is comparable to the fastest land animal, the cheetah. Water is 750 times more dense than air which makes its speed that much more impressive.
Measuring speeds of ocean animals is difficult for obvious reasons. Their speeds were often measured by observation as they were swimming nest to boats, but these figures can be misleading and make the animal appear faster than it actually is due to the drafting effect.
Here is a list of the fastest ocean animals:
Tunny — Known for its fighting ability, the Tunny can zip along at speeds up to 46 mph. This is an opportunistic predator that favors feeding on squid and other fish. With its sturdy body they’re known to live up to 10 years. Did you know this fish has a high oil content in its body? Because of that, the Tunny is often used as bait when fishing for marlin and shark.
Swordfish — This aptly named fish are known for their sword like bills. That, along with their streamlined shape, allows them to easily cut through the water. they can and can thrust and parry with the best of them. When leaping, they’ve been observed to reach 60 mph. Did you know
The size of swordfish eyes can be the size of a softball? In 2012 one of those eyes washed up on a Florida beach and created a big mystery as to what kind of creature it belonged to. Ever wonder if maybe one swordfish poked out the eye of another swordfish?
Mako (make-o) Shark — These sharks are found all over the world, with the vast majority located in the waters of Tahiti. When they’re migrating or hunting for food they can attain a top speed of 60 mph, but generally swim around 35 mph. The Mako tends to be a popular target for hunters, who want the shark as a trophy.
Pilot Whale — These mammoth marine animals can weigh as much as 3 tons and males can reach up to 25 feet long. They tend to favor deep waters and are known to be intelligent and highly social, often forming in groups of 100. These whales are known for their deep diving ability, and prey on large squids. They’ve been clocked at 47 mph when leaping.
Wahoo — This fish is known for its great strength and speed, having been observed to attain speeds from 48 to 60 mph! No surprise it’s one of the fastest of all known fish. Their speed is enhanced by bladelike fins that allow it to slice through the water. They’re recognized for their aggression and for their teeth, which are razor-sharp. They’re known as excellent gaming fish and for their excellent taste when cooked.
Yellowfin Tuna — This species of Tuna can reach speeds up to 50 mph. Did you ever think a Tuna could swim that fast … even Charlie Tuna? They have some heft, too weighing up to 440 pounds and measuring up to 8 feet in length. The Yellowfin Tuna is also known as one of the fastest and strongest predators in the open ocean.
Sailfish — With speeds up to 68 mph, the Sailfish ranks as one of the fastest marine animals. To be fair, that speed includes the Sailfish leaping into the air. It moves faster while leaping than it does while swimming. They’re recognized by their blue-gray coloring, and for their elongated, needlelike bill. Their name comes from the erectile dorsal fin that looks like a sail. At some 220 pounds and measuring 10 feet long, these creatures are pretty much built for speed. Did you know that if the Sailfish swam a 200-meter race, it would clock a time under 10 seconds! Michael Phelps is an Olympic gold medal swimmer and his best time was about 1.42 minutes, which works out to 4.7 mph. That would leave a lot of human swimmers all wet!
Marlin — This species of Marlin is found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The largest marlins have measured over 15 feet long and weighed over 1600 pounds. They’ve been clocked at speeds of up to 80 mph which would make them one of fastest of all fish. Bear in mind, that speed is an estimate, and refers to the speed with which hooked marlins can unwind fishing line. More often than not, the Marlins speed is estimated at 50 mph. They’re also a highly sought after game fish and are fished commercially.
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna — You thought the Yellowfin Tuna was big? Meet its cousin … this species of tuna can reach a massive size of 1500 pounds and measure up to 15 feet long … that’s some tuna. But despite its impressive size, this fish can reach speeds up to 45 mph! It turns on the jets when pursuing prey like red crab or anchovies … or escaping from fishermen who want to turn it into lunch!
Swordfish – 60 mph (measured when leaping). They use their sword to catch their prey.
Mahi-Mahi or Dolphin Fish — One of the most visually arresting fish in the sea, the Mahi Mahi Bears unique metallic green and blue colors with black, blue, or green spots. Its forked tail and sleek body allow it to reach speeds up to 40 mph. Did you know the name Mahi Mahi means ‘very strong’ in Hawaiian.