Shortbill Spearfish (Tetrapturus angustirostris), also known as Hebi fish, is a powerful marlin species native to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. This group of game fish is typically found in the open waters and is popular for its large size and elongated body with a short beak-like bill. It can reach 2.30 meters, though most are typically less than 1.90 meters. The maximum recorded weight of this game fish is 52 kg.

With its striking appearance and impressive size, this fish is a popular target for sports anglers and a valuable commercial species. This article explores the appearance, habitat, diet, reproduction, threats, and interesting facts about this fascinating species. So, whether you are a marine biologist, sports fisher, or any ordinary person interested in exploring the rich wealth of the ocean, there is something important for everyone here.


The hebi fish is a large predator with a distinctive appearance that makes it easy to identify. An elongated body with a short bill extending from the upper jaw characterizes it.

Shortbill spearfish can reach can reach 2.30 meters in length
Shortbill spearfish can reach can reach 2.30 meters in length

This unique species’ body is blue or black and silver or white underneath, with vertical stripes along their sides. These stripes can range from pale blue to dark purple and become more pronounced when the fish is excited or hunting.


The shortbill spearfish is found in tropical and temperate waters worldwide, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. However, they are available in the Atlantic Ocean too. These fish prefer warm, clear waters with temperatures between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 26 degrees Celsius).

This species is typically found near the surface, although they can dive to depths of up to 152 meters). Remember that the hebi fish is a highly migratory species, traveling long distances for food and spawning grounds. They are often found in warmer waters near the equator during the winter. At the same time, they can be found in cooler waters closer to the poles during the summer.


The shortbill spearfish is a fierce predator, meaning it feeds on a wide assortment of prey, including squid, octopus, mackerel, and other small fish. They use their sharp bill and impressive speed to hunt these animals in groups. Research shows it can swim up to 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour). Without a doubt, this makes this species of marlin one of the fastest fish in the ocean.

When hunting, they use their bill to slash at the fish, stunning or injuring it before swallowing it whole. The hebi fish has no teeth, but it has a tough, bony plate in the mouth that aids in crushing its prey.


During the spawning season, the male hebi fish will pursue a female and engage in a courtship dance. This typically occurs in the summer.

During this period, the female releases eggs, and the male fertilizes them externally.

Since the eggs are small and buoyant, they drift in the water column until they hatch. The larval fish is also small and qualifies to be grouped under plankton. So, they also drift in the open ocean for a few days until they mature and develop features that aid them in swimming.


The hebi fish is a highly valued game fish and a valuable commercial species. As a result, it is under threat from overfishing.

The hebi fish population has been severely depleted in many areas due to commercial fishing and destructive fishing methods such as longlining and gillnetting. Additionally, habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change threaten it.

Facts About Shortbill Spearfish

  1. The hebi fish is found in tropical and temperate waters worldwide, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  2. These highly migratory fish travel long distances to find food and spawning grounds.
  3. The hebi fish is a powerful predator that feeds on various prey, including squid, octopus, mackerel, and other small fish.
  4. The hebi fish has no teeth but uses a bony plate in its mouth to crush its prey.
  5. During spawning season, male hebi fish pursue a female and engage in a courtship dance.
  6. Conservation efforts are underway to protect the hebi fish, including reducing bycatch and regulating commercial fishing.


Why is it called hebi fish?

The Shortbill spearfish is called “hebi” in Hawaiian. This name means “curved” or “twisted,” which may refer to the fish’s long, slender body and how it moves through the water. It may also refer to the fish’s sharp, pointed bill, curved and twisted like a spear.
Overall, the name “hebi” reflects the cultural significance of this fish in Hawaiian fishing and the unique characteristics of this species.

Is hebi fish good?

Yes, hebi fish is good. It is a popular game fish that is highly valued for its meat. Its flesh is firm, flavorful, and lean, with a mild taste similar to swordfish. Regarding nutrition, hebi fish is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining heart health and brain function.
Unfortunately, due to these benefits, this species is threatened by overfishing and other human activities.  

Does eating hebi fish raw cause paralysis?

It would be best if you didn’t eat hebi fish raw due to the risk of ciguatera poisoning, which is a type of food poisoning that occurs when you eat fish contaminated with ciguatoxin. This toxin is produced by microscopic algae that grow on some coral reefs.
Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, numbness, tingling, and even hallucinations in some cases. In severe cases, this poison can cause paralysis and respiratory failure.

Where are hebi fish found?

Hebi fish are most commonly found in the Pacific Ocean, including the waters around Hawaii, Japan, and the western coast of North America. They are also found in the Indian Ocean, including the waters around the Maldives and Seychelles. Better still, you can find them in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Caribbean, Brazil, and West Africa waters.
Hebi fish prefer warm and clear waters and are often found in areas with strong ocean currents or upwellings.

What is the size of the hebi fish?

Shortbill Spearfish are relatively small billfish, with an average size of around 30 to 60 pounds (14 to 27 kg) in weight and 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 meters) in length. However, they can weigh around 52 kg and be about 2.4 meters. Females tend to be larger than males.

Hebi fish

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