It walks on six legs, croaks like a frog and has fins that look like a bird’s wings.
Meet the Bluewing Searobin (Prionotus punctatus). This peculiar-looking fish belongs to the family of Scorpaeniformes – a diverse order of ray-finned fish, such as the Lionfish, which are characterised by a plate of bone running across each cheek.
When swimming, its large pectoral fins open and close like a bird’s wings in flight. The large surface area of the fins also allows the fish to glide short distances above the water surface, much like a flying fish.
Growing up to 20cm long, the Bluewing Searobin is native to the area ranging from The Gulf of Mexico to Argentina. It is typically found on the sandy or muddy bottoms of the continental and insular shelves up to 200 metres deep, and occasionally over reefs. It feeds on shrimps, crabs, other crustaceans and fishes.
Croaks like a frog
In times of distress, such as when it is caught, the Bluewing Robin makes croaking noises similar to a frog by beating against its swim bladder.
6 spiny legs
Despite being a fish, the Bluewing Searobin also has 6 spiny “legs”, three on each side. These legs are flexible spines that were once part of the pectoral fin. During development, the spines separate from the rest of the fin, developing into feeler-like “fore legs” which they use to explore the sandy bottom in search of food.
Here’s a clip of the Bluewing Searobin in our Seagrass Habitat: