Flying Gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans) – Profile | Traits

flying gurnard fish
(Last Updated On: April 13, 2021)

The flying gurnard fish, scientific name Dactylopterus volitans, also called the helmet gurnard, is a bottom-dwelling fish of tropical to heat temperate waters on each side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Flying Gurnard Fish profile

On the American aspect, it’s discovered as far north as Massachusetts (exceptionally so far as Canada) and as far south as Argentina, together with the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

On the European and African sides, flying gurnard fish ranges from the English Channel to Angola, together with the Mediterranean.

Flying gurnard fish is the one species within the monotypic genus Dactylopterus. Comparable and associated species from the genus Dactyloptena are discovered within the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

The identify “gurnard” comes from the French phrase for “grunt”, which is apt because the fish are recognized to emit growling sounds by their swim bladder.

Nonetheless, flying gurnard fish does not really fly – though some sources declare they’ll glide above the floor for temporary stints utilizing their giant pectorals.

Flying Gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans)

Though their conservation standing hasn’t been evaluated, flying gurnard fish is pretty ample, and never commercially fished, besides in Senegal (the place they’re bought underneath the identity “rooster”).

And don’t fear, regardless of being distant cousins of the lethal scorpionfish, there’s no venom current right here.

The big pectoral fins of the flying gurnard fish look harmful, and that’s the purpose! When threatened, these unbelievable fish fan them out to scare off predators.

The fins additionally turn out to be useful for  “strolling” alongside the ocean flooring or poking around within the sand for meals.

The fish are sometimes adopted by two opportunistically feeding associates: the yellow jack and the coney, each algae eaters that profit from the flying gurnard’s behavior of churning up algae tufts.

The Flying Gurnard, Dactylopterus volitans, is a member of the Flying Gurnard or Dactylopteridae Family and is thought of in Mexico as alón volador.

Globally, there are seven species within the Dactylopteridae Family that have been positioned in two genera. The genus Dactylopterus, has one species, this species, that’s present in Mexican waters of the Atlantic Ocean.


The Flying Gurnard is a resident of all Mexican waters of the Atlantic Ocean together with the Gulf of Mexico and the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula within the Caribbean.

Flying Gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans)

Flying Gurnard Fish Description

The Flying Gurnard has enormous, round Pectoral fins. The fins are normally held in opposition to the body, however, when threatened they will increase their wings (fins) to scare off a predator.

The Flying Gurnard has a reasonably elongated odd box-shaped body with a square cross-section that tapers posteriorly. They are extremely variable in coloration together with varied shades of yellowish-brown and dusky colors with pale body spots; their giant fan-like pectoral fins are coated with white spots and brilliant blue traces and spots. Under stress, their pectoral fins turn semi-transparent with a lovely phosphorescent brilliant blue coloration.

Their head is giant and blunt and coated with onerous scute-like scales. They have disproportionately giant eyes and a small mouth that opens ventrally with a band of small nodular teeth. The lower nook of their preoperculum has a long backbone with a serrated keel that tapers posteriorly.

Their anal fin is brief with 6 rays; their caudal fin is barely concave with 2 sharp keels on the base; their first dorsal fin has 6 spines with the first 2 being standalone, and the second hash 1 backbone and eight rays; their pectoral fins have a horizontal base with 6 brief rays above and 26 to 30 long rays under; and their pelvic fins are under the pectoral base.

They are shut family to the Searobins and are exceptional for his or her huge pectoral fins which when laid back attain the bottom of the caudal fin and when unfold take the type of huge rounded fanlike wings.

The front portion of those “wings” is formed just like the foot of an amphibian, giving the fish a “lizard-like” look. They possess a swim bladder with 2 lobes and a “drumming muscle” that may beat in opposition to the swim bladder to supply sound. They are coated with sharp bony scales which have sharp keels.


Found on sand, mud, or over rocks in sandy areas, exploring the underside with the free part of the pectoral fins. Feeds totally on benthic crustaceans, particularly crabs, clams, and small fishes. Neither anterolateral glandular groove nor venom gland is present.

Flying Gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans)

Color and Wings

This flying gurnard fish is variable in coloration, being brownish or greenish with reddish or yellowish patches.

When excited, the fish spreads its “wings”, which are semi-transparent, with a phosphorescent shiny blue coloration at their ideas.

The fish additionally has giant eyes. It reaches as much as 50 cm (20 in) in size and 1.eight kg (4.0 lb) in weight.

The weight loss program of the Flying Gurnard consists of small bottom-dwelling fish, black worms, shrimp (Mysis or brine), and different meaty meals.

The predominant weight loss program of the flying gurnard fish consists of small fish, bivalves, and crustaceans.

Flying Gurnard Fish Adaptation

The Flying Gurnard is a demersal species discovered over and inside sandy and muddy bottoms at depths as much as 82 m (270 feet). They attain a maximum size of 45 cm (18 inches).

As of October 15, 2019, the International Game Fish Association world report stood at 1.81 kg (4 lbs 0 oz) with the fish caught from coastal waters off Panama City, Florida in June 1986.

They are similar to Searobins having the ability to “walk” alongside sandy sea flooring in search of crustaceans and different small invertebrates for meals. As a protection mechanism, they will unfold their giant pectoral fins and seem a lot greater than they really are.

The Flying Gurnard is poorly studied with very restricted information out there about their way of life and behavioral patterns together with particular particulars on age, growth, longevity, motion patterns, diet, habitat use, and reproduction.


From a conservation perspective, the Flying Gurnard is at the moment thought-about to be of Least Concern with stable, broadly distributed populations. They are bought commercially on a restricted basis by aquarium commerce.

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