The flying gurnard, also known as the helmet gurnard, is a bottom-dwelling fish of tropical to warm temperate waters of the Mediterranean and on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Along the eastern side of the Atlantic this beautiful fish can be found from the the English Channel to Angola. On the American side, it is found as far north as Massachusetts (exceptionally as far as Canada) and as far south as Argentina, including the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
For those of you who really like your fish families this is the only species in the monotypic genus Dactylopterus. Which is similar and related to the species from the genus Dactyloptena found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Enough of the latin now.
Although you have a chance of spotting the flying gurnard on any dive while you are with us at NDS Malta, we have recently been spotting them on most dives when we are at the Um El Faroud.
This fish is variable in coloration, being brownish or greenish with reddish or yellowish patches. When excited, the fish spreads its “wings”, which are semi-transparent, with a phosphorescent bright blue coloration at their tips. The fish also has large eyes. It reaches up to 50 cm (20 in) in length and 1.8 kg (4.0 lb) in weight. The fish’s main diet consists of small fish, bivalves, and crustaceans