Pilot Fish, a scomberoid fish of the genus naucrates (Raf.). It is characterized by a fusiform body, small uniform scales, a keel on the side of the tail, the dorsal composed of isolated spines, and the ventrals under the pectorals; the head is compressed, the teeth thin and crowded on the jaws and palate, and the branchiostegal rays seven; some free spines in front of the dorsal and anal fins. There are four species, of which the best known is the N. ductor (Raf.), the famous pilot fish of navigators; it is about a foot long, shaped like a mackerel, of a silvery gray color, bluish on the back, with five dark blue bands encircling the body. This species attends vessels for long distances, for the sake of the bits of food thrown overboard; this may account for its strange fellowship with the sharks; they seem to be on good terms with each other, but probably have a common object in view, the obtaining of food, the smaller being too nimble for the greater. It inhabits the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, following vessels into the tropics and even to the coasts of America; its flesh is said to be very good. It was held sacred by the ancients, from the belief that it led vessels in their proper course and through dangerous passages.
On the American coast is described the N. Nbvedoracensis (Cuv.), with four transverse bands and four spines before the dorsal.
Pilot Fish (Naucrates ductor).