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Species: Dactylopterus volitans, Flying Gurnard

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head in bony box
pectoral = v large, blue-edged fan



Dactylopterus volitans (Linnaeus, 1758)

Flying Gurnard

Moderately elongate; body squarish, tapering behind; head blunt, its top and sides in a bony shield; mouth small, on underside of head; jaws with a band of small, nodular teeth; lower corner of preopercle with a long spine, with a serrated keel; 2 dorsal fins, front 2 spines adjacent to each other, connected only by a basal membrane; pectoral fin with horizontal base, 6 short rays above, 26-30 long rays in a greatly enlarged fan that reaches tail fin base of adults; tail fin slightly concave, with 2 sharp keels at its base; scales hard, bony, with sharp keels.

Color: variable, often yellowish-brown, with pale spots on body; fan-like pectoral fins with whitish spots and bright blue lines and spots.

Reaches 45 cm.

Lives on sand and mud bottoms, often found around reefs.

Depth range: 1-150 m.

E & W Atlantic and Mediterranean; Massachusetts to Argentina.

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  • Marine
  • Brackish
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom only
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Estuary
  • Mud
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • Transatlantic (East+West Atlantic)
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 45
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 150