Of Bills Bizarre and AWOL

bilfish double bills

bilfish double bills

Capt. Nick Stanczyk

Two heads are, they say, better'n one.

What about two bills?

That's sailfish bills, versus dollar bills since clearly two of those are clearly twice as good as one.

Capt. Nick Stanczyk at Bud 'N Mary's Fishing Marina in Islamorada sent these images of a sailfish that a charter group on his boat released just a week or two back. He expressed wonder as in "I've never seen anything like it before" and wonder as in "I wonder how common or uncommon it is."

It's certainly isn't common. Most professional charter captains will never see the like.

That said, such an abnormality is by no means unheard of.

In fact, over the past 15 or so years, we've run quite a few photos of billfish with two bills (both over/under and side by side, if memory serves), with curved bills (don't recall the direction, right or left - perhaps that depends on their politics) and several with no bills at all.

In most cases, whether born with a deformed bill or no bill or whether the fish had perhaps lost its bill at some point in its life, these fish appeared generally healthy. All, at least, had made it to maturity and beyond.

On the one hand, there has to be a reason why billfish have evolved this structure; evidence suggests a bill is a handy device for herding and stunning fish. That said, a deformed bill or even the lack of one doesn't seem to necessarily be a death sentence for these top predators

It all proves that you can't keep a good billfish down!