Flying gurnard

(Dactylopterus volitans)

  • Phylum

    Chordata
  • Class

    Actinopterygii
  • Order

    Scorpaeniformes
  • Family

    Dactylopteridae
  • Genus

    Dactylopterus
  • Species

    D. volitans

The flying gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans) is a demersal fish, that is, it lives mostly near the bottom. It can both slowly crawl on the bottom through a first pair of short pectoral fins; and “fly” faster opening the other pair of huge pectoral fins. These are more of the wing kind and come fringed in electric blue.

It feeds by rummaging in the sand or in the sediment looking for small crustaceans or worms.

Two more peculiar facts:
1. its head is covered with a stone-hard tissue;
2. it can utter guttural sounds through its swim bladder.

As a kid I fished my first one in Lampedusa, but I had never heard of it before. So I got terribly scared when recovering the line I saw the monster and heard it screaming too! I had started to hit in the head with my shoe, but in vain because of that bony skull of his!

You can’t miss the good old gurnard in Lampedusa and Lampione…

In which itinerary do we spot it?

  • Almost tropics