Description & Behavior

Northern sea robins, Prionotus caroliuns (Linnaeus, 1771), aka common gurnards (name used for all members of the Triglidae Family due to the grunting sound they often emit), common searobins, searobins, and wingfishes, have a long, rounded body, up to 1 m in length but usually smaller, which is covered with bony plates. The name sea robin comes from their elongated pectoral fins, the first two or three rays of which are separate and act as feelers as the fish searches for crustaceans and other small prey. The rays also serve as “walkers” and can be used to manipulate objects.

World Range & Habitat


Northern sea robins occur worldwide in tropical and temperate seas, most commonly in shallow water on sandy bottoms but have also been recorded at 73 m. Western Atlantic: Nova Scotia in Canada to central Florida in USA, Gulf of Mexico.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

This bottom dweller has a spiny plated head to root out crustaceans, worms and mollusks. Often misidentified as a “flying fish”, this “robin” uses its wings (in reality modified pectoral fins) to root out prey with its finger like rays. Feeds on shrimps, crabs, other crustaceans, squid, bivalves and small fishes. Produces loud, drumming sound by vibrating its swim bladder.

Life History

No data available.

Conservation Status & Comments

Harmless to humans.

References & Further Research

Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange

Research Prionotus carolinus @
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Search for Northern Sea Robins @
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