Friday, June 8, 2012

Olden, Golden Oddity

Aloha! I was going through some old photos yesterday and found this little oddity...
Photo Copyright 2012 by Barry Fackler

This peculiar-looking fish is called a helmet gurnard (Dactyloptena orientalis) and is sometimes referred to as a flying gurnard as its pectoral fins are enlarged to wing-like proportions. It is incapable of flight but is capable of "walking" on the ocean floor with its pelvic fins. It's believed the large pectoral fins are extended to appear larger and more intimidating to any would-be predators. The most anterior rays of the pectoral fins are elongated to form "fingers" to scrape the bottom for food. The bones of the head are fused and armor-like.

While not considered rare, I've only seen two individuals. One was in a tide pool and this one at about 90 feet at Honaunau. Sorry for the poor photo quality. This image is a scan of a print made from a slide so it's kind of a third-generation clone!

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