stranded out of the water on Les Minquiers, Channel Islands
I watched a 100 mm (4 in) Dragonet and several
smaller ones hunting on the sand close to the pier; sand-coloured fish
with darker mottlings, difficult to spot when motionless. Seen
from above, the large specimen was distinctly triangular, widest at the
head and tapering steadily backwards (most books only show side views).
The head was low and apparently flat underneath, with a wide mouth and
big eyes. The dorsal fins were folded flat on its back, and the tail
fin was also held closed. Its rather protruberant eyes must have
given it a good view of the surrounding seabed as it swam slowly and erratically
along, occasionally pouncing on a tiny transparent shrimp. While
moving slowly, it swam barely clear of the bottom, settling every few inches
(about 50 mm) on to the sand, and using its huge splayed pectoral fins
for propulsion; only when alarmed did it dart away for 60 cm or so with
beats of the tail, then it settled on to the sand again, almost invisible.
At no time were the big dorsal and verbal fins, so distinctive in
book illustrations, erected; and the colour was its practical everyday
garb, not the male's breeding colours usually illustrated.
by Jane Lilley
50% juveniles collected alive at Worthing in September 1998 had much darker
heads (look carefully at the photograph). Aquarium observation indicate
that the brown heads can appear and disappear, which happens in one fish.
On the other fish the darker ahead remains constant.
This fish has eyes on the top and a shape like the Mudskipper species
of the tropical mangrove habitats.
Similar species: Callionymus
maculatus, Callionymus reticulatus
Reticulated Dragonet Images
Common Dragonet Images
ID to be decided: Image
(click on this text)
by Derek Haslam
Haslam's Photo Gallery on flickr
behaviour (to be described)
Their courtship is quite
elaborate, which is unusual in British fish. The male I watched approached
the female, then spread his pectoral fins and erected both dorsal fins,
showing off their colours, at the same time lifting his head and opening
his mouth very wide; he did this repeatedly. Had the female responded,
the courtship would, I am told, have continued with increasing excitement
until the two fish swam vertically upwards, undersides together with the
female resting on the male's pectoral fins, and released their eggs and
sperm to be fertilised between their bodies before it drifted away.
and blue fish caught at Marchwood (on the Solent/RiverTest) opposite the
Southampton Container Docks. The dorsal fin is 4-5inch long.
Over sand and mud.
Young fish are sand
shifters, filtering small organisms from ingested sand.
Adults eat small crustaceans
and worms, Carrion probably not an important part of its diet and may not
be recognised as food. In captivity, they started feeding on crushed frozen
prawn after four days.
All British coasts.
Shallow water to 30 metres, occasionally deeper.
Juveniles intertidal, although all Sussex specimens
were found in Autumn, as late as October.
Frequent in Shoreham Harbour entrance, Sussex,
below low water mark in August
Habitually buries completely under the sand.
Even on pools on the shore, the presence of this fish can go undetected.
Head and eyes only may protrude and fish may quickly emerge from hiding
Protruberant eyes revolve and appear very
alert to the smallest movement.
under Swanage Pier
(Phil Whiting entry)
Information wanted: Please send any
records of this fish, with location, date, who discovered it, how it was
identified, prevalence, common name and any other details to
All messages will receive a reply.
Project EMail Glaucus@hotmail.com.