Sunday 30 September 2012

Sea Robin

Image: EricksonSmith via Flickr
Striped Sea Robin
Are those legs? They look like legs!
What do you get if you cross a fish with an insect?

Sea Robins, also known as Gurnards, are over 100 species in the family Triglidae. Pretty much every part of the world has at least one kind of Sea Robin lurking on the sea floor not too far from the coast. Most of them reach about 30 or 60 cm (a foot or two) long.

Image: zslamaj via Flickr
Streaked Gurnard
Gurnards have big eyes, big heads and tapering bodies. Some of them have bony plates of spiny armour on their head. No doubt an effective defence against predators who haven't learned how to use a knife and fork, or even a great big axe. Poor old predators. Sometimes decapitation can be a great help.

Image: Bernard Picton
Red Gurnard
They can also talk! No, not really. Actually they have special muscles attached to their swim bladder. The swim bladder is full of air and used to control buoyancy, flexing the muscles allows the Gurnard to beat it like a drum and produce a croaking sound. I guess it's like beating bagpipes. A lot of people would love to see bagpipes get beaten to death... I quite like them, myself.

Image: Biopix: JC Schou
Grey Gurnard
Just a little brown fish. WITH LEGS!
Some Sea Robins have the dark, brown colours we see in other bottom dwellers like catfish.

Image: richard ling via Flickr
Eastern Spiny Gurnard
Lovely! AND LEGGY!
A few are extremely colourful.

Image: Saspotato via Flickr
Australian Spiny Gurnard
Beautiful wings. COVERING ITS LEGS!
Gurnards also have huge pectoral fins that can be eye-catching even if the rest of the fish decidedly isn't.

The creepiest, crawliest fish in the sea.
And it IS in the sea! Even though the water is so clear it doesn't look it.

Despite the extravagance, there are actually some parts missing from those pectoral fins. Three spines have been let loose from each one. Without being covered in the fin membrane, they can dedicate their lives to other matters, be all that they can be, realise their monstrous potential and let their inner weirdness blossom.

Image: mentalblock_DMD via Flickr
Banded Sea Robin
Huge wings like a moth!
Dangerously close to a Bearded Fireworm?
They become legs. They thicken, strengthen and become 6 creepy, crawly legs.

Halfway through, those legs look like hands on a feathered dinosaur!

These legs are sensitive to chemicals, so the Gurnard uses them to seek out food in mud or among rocks. Sea Robins are voracious predators, so food is any small fish, worm, crustacean, mollusc and whatever else that fits in their mouth.

Image: wwarby via Flickr
Tub Gurnard
"Sea legs" usually refer to being able to walk around on a boat without falling over and feeling sick. Boring! I want Sea Robin legs!


TexWisGirl said...

wings. legs. so cute! :)

Joseph JG said...

They have it all!

Anonymous said...

This creature is so ugley, it's cute!

Joseph JG said...

Haha! It's surprising how many creatures are like that!

FaustXIII said...

it's like the head can just detach and walk off

Joseph JG said...

It does! Erk... I hadn't thought of it like that!

Unknown said...

I caught one of them and I was confuse. Never seen a fish has wings. It was about 4" but had a big mouth. Ate a blood worm was hooked in 7/0 big hook. Interesting!! Had to let her go......

Joseph JG said...

Yes, it's a very strange fish. It's not the kind of thing you expect to find on the end of your fishing rod!