Purple Flying Gurnard

Dactyloptena orientalis

This weird looking fish has bony armour encasing the head and ending in long spines at the rear of the head. It also has enlarged, wing-like pectoral fins that reach almost to the tail, with the first two dorsal spines separated and detached from the remainder of the fin. Because they are sluggish, slow-moving, and inflexible they use the large spotted ‘wings’ and bony armour as defense mechanisms, but giving the appearance of some strange aircraft cruising the sea. The Gurnard is found normally in soft bottoms composed of sand or mud. They live in shallow seas to depths of about 100 m, and are often found in trawler nets.

Distributed throughout the Central Pacific to the Indian Ocean.

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.