Atlantic Stargazer, Uranoscopus scaber

The Atlantic stargazer (Uranoscopus scaber) is a subtropical fish species that is widespread along the Atlantic coasts of Europe and Africa. It is also common in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. It inhabits the sandy or muddy sediments of the continental shelf at depths of 46 to 1,300 feet.

The body of the Atlantic stargazer is somewhat flat and is usually eight to twelve inches long. The head and jaws rotate up and has very large eyes on top of the head and a large mouth. The color is normally brown with numerous small light colored spots. The belly is lighter in color and the female is normally larger than the male. The lifespan is generally five to six years.

The Atlantic stargazer also has an electric organ that releases electric discharges. This pulse-like releases when feeding or is disturbed.

The Atlantic stargazer is an ambush feeder. It will lie buried in the sand with only its eyes exposed. On the lower jaw is a small strip of tissue the fish will wiggle attracting prey. The stargazer will lunge at its prey and within 30 milliseconds it will be consumed. Its diet consists of fish larvae, smaller fish, small crustaceans along with algae and vegetation.

Depending on the region the fish spawn between April and September. The eggs are about .08 inches in diameter. The larvae, post-larvae and juveniles will remain toward the surface of the water until mature.

Image Caption: Atlantic stargazer (Uranoscopus scaber). Credit: Yuriy Kvach/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)