JUN 07, 2017 9:02 AM PDT

What is this mysterious "walking" fish?


Footage from a scuba diver off the coast of Bali, Indonesia caught this rare fish in action, scuttling across the sea floor on what appear to be legs. Its appearance alone is not enough to adequately identify it; it could be a striped stingfish, a whitetail goblinfish, a painted stinger, or possibly even an undescribed species. Stingfish are in the stonefish family, which include some of the most venomous fish in the world, so it's a good thing this scuba diver didn't get any closer!

The video shows some of the unique characteristics that the fish sports. The fish uses its lowermost free pectoral fin rays for its ambulatory motion, essentially walking across the sea floor. From the video it appears that the fish has only two rays, but there may potentially be more "walking" appendages that the footage doesn't show. This sight certainly captures the eye because the rays are only bony spines that spike off of the fish's body, making it look like the fish is hoping around on toothpicks! However, it may actually be on the hunt, as the taste buds on the end of each ray allow the fish to search for food drifting around on the ocean floor. Experts say that they would need to see the fish closer up to determine if its innovative anatomy is actually a new species.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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