Aspitrigla cuculus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Red Gurnard

Aspitrigla cuculus

Description: Gurnards are very distinctive bottom-living fish with large heads and eyes. The head is protected by large bony plates and strong spines. The lower three rays of the pectoral fins are separate, finger-like processes that contain sensory organs. These are used by the gurnard to 'feel' for small fish, crustaceans and other invertebrates living in the sediment. The red gurnard has a stout body, large head and eyes and moderately large scales. It is one of the smallest of the European gurnards reaching a maximum length of 40cm. The coloration is bright red with pinkish-silver mottling on the sides and head. The protective bony plates on the head which are characteristic of all gurnards are very conspicuous in this species. Along the lateral line there is a row of large, plate-like scales.

Habitat: This is a relatively uncommon fish which can be found on a variety of seabeds including sand, gravel, mud and even rock. It mainly feeds on small fish and a variety of bottom-living invertebrates.

Distribution: The red gurnard is widely distributed around the coasts of Britain and Ireland but is absent from most of the east coast of Britain.

Similar Species: This species may be confused with the tub gurnard (Trigla lucerna) which can also have a reddish coloration, however the tub gurnard has brilliant blue markings on the pectoral fins which are characteristic.

Key Identification Features:

Distribution Map: NBN map : National Biodiversity Network mapping facility, data for UK.

WoRMS: Species record : World Register of Marine Species.

iNaturalist: Species account : iNaturalist World Species Observations database

 Picton, B.E. & Morrow, C.C. (2016). Aspitrigla cuculus (Linnaeus, 1758). [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland.
https://www.habitas.org.uk/marinelife/species.asp?item=ZG4030 Accessed on 2024-06-24

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