Flying Gurnard, Dactylopterus volitans

The Flying Gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans) is a species of fish found in tropical waters on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. They occur as far north as North Carolina and south to Brazil, and from the English Channel to Angola. There have been instances of this fish found in the waters off New York, Massachusetts Bay, and the Gulf of Maine, but this is a very rare instance, where this species prefers warm-water habitat. They are found on sand, mud or over rocks in sandy areas, exploring the bottom with the free part of the pectoral fins.

The Flying Gurnard is about 12 inches long at adulthood. It is a very brilliant fish, varying in color. Most specimens are a shade of brown, green, or olive above, with the lower side pale, and marked irregularly with reddish-salmon or salmon-yellow. The very large wing-like pectorals are variously marked with bright blue streaks near their bases, with bluish spots and bars toward the tips. The caudal fin has about three brown-red cross bars.

The Flying Gurnard feed primarily on benthic crustaceans, especially crabs, clams and small fishes. There is no venom gland present.

Image Caption: Flying Gurnard in the Mediterranean east of Crete, Greece. Credit: Beckmannjan/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)