Common Name: Flying gurnard
Scientific Names: Dactylopterus volitans
Description: Most of those seen in this area are up to 20cm long. It has a prominent head with a sharply sloping profile with large eyes set near the top. The body is almost square in cross section and tapers away towards the tail. The really distinctive and beautiful feature of this fish is the gigantic pectoral fins that reach almost back to the tail. When swimming (see the video), these fins are outstretched to reveal beautiful colours including vivid blue spots.
Distinctive Features: The huge, colourful fan-like pectoral fins are unmistakable.
Abundance: Solitary. Only on sandy habitats.
Habitat & Behaviour: They are found on sandy habitats were they actively search for food in the sand. When disturbed they ‘fly’ off (see the video).
Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers: Wary of snorkellers diving from the surface, less so of divers who value the beauty of the fish; often photographed.
Other Notes: It is one of the species of wrasse that builds seaweed nests for its eggs and this behaviour can be observed in shallow water.
Text: Bob Earll
Photo: Russell & Gill Bennett
Video: Luke Adshead