Eastern Spiny Gurnard: The Butterfly-Looking Fish


Eastern spiny gurnard is a beautiful fish with fins that look like a butterfly’s wings. This is the type of fish that you do not see every day, and this is why we are talking about them today. Those wings are not the only unique thing that this fish species has, and we shall find out what else they have below.


An eastern spiny gurnard is a medium-sized marine fish that grows to around 20 centimeters long. The fish is reddish to brownish in color, and it has a whitish underside. If you look closely, there are also large bony scutes along the lateral line as well. When it comes to the wings, they are dark green with an iridescent blue margin and a dark blotch on the lower rear.

Speaking of wings, they are not actually wings; since they cannot fly anyway. The so-called wings are their enlarged pectoral fins with flamboyant colorations which are super eye-catching. An eastern spiny gurnard can flutter these fins to use the bright colors to distract and startle its predators. Then, it simply closes its wings and swims through the ocean; being pretty as per usual. On top of the wings, these fascinating fish also have 6 special spiny legs under their head as well. The legs were once connected to the pectoral fins but not anymore due to the evolution. Now, they are the sensory feelers that detect crustacean prey as the fish walks across the ocean floor.

2Feeding & Habitats

Not different from other gurnards in the family, this one also feeds on shrimps, small crabs, small fish, and worms. With the help of their little legs, finding food is not a difficult task for them. Endemic to Australia, eastern spiny gurnards mostly live in rubble and sandy areas in coastal reefs and estuaries. The fish spends most of its lifetime cruising across Australia’s south coast from central New South Wales to the southern corner of west Australia. Despite being deep sea fish, you still can see them on a recreational shore dive in Sydney.

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