Gurnard a bony-headed, spiny-finned fish of warm temperate and tropical waters. It is 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) long and is tannish-brown in color. The gurnard lives on the sandy bottom of shallow water and feeds on crustaceans and small fish. It has large, fanlike pectoral fins with blue spots. When threatened, the fish spreads out the fins, increasing its apparent size. Three rays (bony spines) in front of the pectoral fins are used to stir up the sand in search of food. The flying gurnard, found from Massachusetts to Argentina and from Portugal to West Africa, uses its large pectoral fins to glide short distances.
The flying gurnard is Dactylopterus volitans. Gurnards make up the family Dactylopteridae. An unrelated fish, the sea robin, is sometimes called gurnard; it belongs to the family Triglidae.