Which Are the Fastest Fish in the Ocean? Learn About the Fin-Tastic Feats of These Fish

For many of the world's fastest fish, their top speeds exceed the speed limit on most U.S. highways.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Apr. 30 2024, Published 11:09 a.m. ET

A black marlin swims across dark blue water.
Source: iStock

If you found your virtual self engaged in an Animal Crossing fishing tournament and bested by the larger, faster fish in the game, you may be wondering what the fastest fish in the ocean actually are.

Are the larger fish, like swordfish, the fastest swimmers, or does it help to be small, lithe, and free of excess weight to slow you down?

Article continues below advertisement

Put on your captain hat, enjoy some ethical plant-based fish alternatives, and become astonished at the rapid speeds with which these fish navigate the ocean.

A sailfish navigates the turquoise ocean as it faces the left side of the photo.
Source: iStock
Article continues below advertisement

What is the fastest fish in the ocean?

The debate about the fastest fish in the ocean turns out to be more of a "Kobe vs. LeBron vs. MJ" argument without a clear-cut winner. Although there isn't a consensus on the fastest fish in the ocean, the prominent contenders seem to consistently grace the top of most lists of the fastest fish.

According to the BBC's Science Focus Magazine, the Black Marlin takes the top ranking with a maximum speed of about 80 miles per hour. The sailfish isn't too far behind with a top speed of roughly 68 miles per hour.

Article continues below advertisement

However, Ocean Conservancy tabs the sailfish as the fastest fish in the ocean. For a fish that weighs up to 200 pounds, measures between six and 11 feet long, and hunts prey more than 1,000 feet below the surface, 68 miles per hour is downright terrifying and astonishing.

Isn't nature amazing?


A sailfish with blue coloring on its body pursues bait in the ocean.
Source: iStock

Nova Southeastern University declares the sailfish the fastest in the world thanks to research into the fascinating fish's hunting behavior. According to the National Ocean Service, its nearly 70 miles per hour top speed makes it one formidable fish.

Accompanied by their iconic dorsal fin, the long bill of the kingfish serves a similar function to that of the swordfish: Mother Nature awarded them a distinct advantage when hunting prey in the ocean.

Article continues below advertisement

Black Marlin

A black marlin leaps above the dark blue ocean.
Source: iStock

At about 15 feet long and weighing up to 1,653 pounds, according to A-Z-Animals.com, the black marlin is no match for the squid and octopods it considers prey.

Its range of speeds encompass 22 miles per hour to more than 80 miles per hour, and their only real threat seems to be humans, according to A-Z-Animals.com, who consider black marlins a trophy hunt.


According to Ocean Conservancy, swordfish, also known as broadbills, can reach swimming speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.

They utilize their trademark bills not to spear their prey but to slash and slow their target down, which makes the prey easier to catch and consume. According to National Geographic, swordfish have an oily gland at the base of their sword that repels water near the swordfish's head as it swims, allowing for a smoother, faster glide across the ocean.

More from Green Lovers

Latest The Earth's Oceans News and Updates

    © Copyright 2024 Green Lovers. Green Lovers is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.