Support Us
Follow Us
Shutterstock

Meet the Flying Gurnard: A Freaky Fish That Use Its Wings to WALK, Not Fly

Few divers have been lucky enough to capture it on camera.


There are fish with wings, but they don't use them to fly.

Giphy

Introducing the flying gurnard, a fish that spends its days dwelling on the seafloor instead of haphazardly leaping through the air like some flying fish.

flying gurnard Shutterstock

The resilient creature, which grows to about 20 inches long, can thrive in a wide variety of waters, reaching from Argentina to the Caribbean to Massachusetts.

Like many bottom-dwellers, it scuttles along the ocean floor, gobbling down small fish and crustaceans for most of its meals. And it gets a little noisy in the process.

"Gurnard" is a French word that means "to grunt" — these busy-bodies emit little grunting noises originating from their swim bladders as they swish along the seafloor. The animals then use those little clucking noises to communicate with each other.

When threatened, the flying gurnard quickly fans out a set of pectoral fins that look like wings.

flying gurnard

Giphy

The transformation is alarming, and few divers have been lucky enough to capture it on camera.

When it's not trying to scare off enemies, some researchers think it uses those pectoral fins to help it move around the ocean floor. It also likely uses them to dig through the sand to find some of its meals.

Other experts believe that every once in awhile, these fish use their wings to glide across small parts of the water — you know, in a way closer to how the other fish with wings typically use them.

Even crazier-looking than the flying gurnard is the armored searobin, another fish with wings and a gurnard nickname (it's also known as an armored gurnard).

flying gurnard

Giphy

This weirdo lives deeper down than flying gurnards, so humans don't often get a glimpse of them. But when they do, it's a pretty freaky glimpse.

This fish's red color and spiky, bony body make it seem primed for battle at any time.

flying gurnard

Giphy

Let's hear it for these weird winged creatures that aren't afraid to let their freak flags fly!

Giphy

Add your name right now to make a difference for marine life and our oceans with Oceana.

Show Comments ()

Literally Just 50+ Photos of Stunningly Beautiful Sea Slugs

Did you know nudibranchs (aka sea slugs) are basically the Beyoncés of the ocean? Check out these beautiful sea slugs that, you know, woke up like this.

Keep Reading Show less

Sign Up For Our Newsletter Subscribe Shark


Sign Up For Our Newsletter Subscribe Shark