Can you identify this strange fish in Peru?

by David and Lin Schneider
(Los Organos, Peru)

Peru Questions - Strange Fish

Peru Questions - Strange Fish

Peru Questions - Strange Fish
Second view of fish in Peru
Strange fish from the top

Lin and I were walking on the beach here in Los Organos, N. Peru looking for sea glass. Not much sea glass but we came across this strange fish.

Well, at least it's strange to us. Maybe it is common here in Peru, I don't know.

Can you identify it or give some suggestions on how to go about finding out what it is?

Here is a link to our new Inside-Peru fish page with bigger photos.


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Hey Anonymous
by: David @

Are you really going to eat that UGLY fish? Yuck.

I am reminded of years ago when I used fish off the wharf in Santa Cruz, California. One weekend I was next to a Filipino who had apparently been enjoying a liquid repast. He had some perch or something in his bucket and said, "hey, look," and picked up one and ate the eye out of it.

Yuck. Eating raw fish was not something I would do. At that time.

Later we moved to the Big Island Hawaii for a number of years and I would fish off the rocks for relaxation. In Hawaii, sushi (raw fish) is commonly eaten, usually Ahi. But we also started eating raw opihi (china hats) right off the rocks, something everyone does in Hawaii.

It wasn't a big step from there to eating whatever fish raw. My wife got used to seeing me cleaning my catch and eating the better pieces as I was filleting them out. A little bit of rock salt mixed with soy sauce and sesame oil for a dip and it is one happy fish cleaner.

Well, I must admit I still stop short of eating the eyeball.

by: Anonymous

A Darwin fisherman caught several trawling at a depth of 300m, north of Darwin nearing Indonesian waters. Having looked at many similar species, it is an identical Satyrichthys as the one pictured here from Peru.

Good eating? Will let you know soon!

strange fish in Peru
by: Harry Leichter

Robust Armored Gurnard Satyrichthys welchi


Thank you for the update on this fish, Harry.

As you note, this is a fish from the family Peristediidae. These fish are commonly called armored sea robins or armored gurnards.

However, there are 44 species of this family. Which one this particular fish belongs to is not possible to say just from the photos we have.

(ref: )

One washed up in Hawaii as well
by: Simo


Just browsed through the news and saw your fish again! Here's a video clip of the news where a boy in Hawaii found one. They call it armored gurnard, which is the same as armored sea-robin, as previous posters also had found out.

Peristedion barbiger Garman, 1899 Armored sea-robin
by: David of Inside-Peru

Wow, Allie, you really narrowed it down! After checking a number of sites on Google, I believe this is the exact fish.

On the site EOL - Encyclopedia of Life the photo and description seem to nail it down.

In part, it says, "The head and body flattened below and completely covered in a heavy armor of bony plates and spines; bony shield covering head ends in an pointed wing; snout long and broad, extended in a pair of short, broad bony plates..."

and "Costa Rica to northern Peru; vagrant in the Galapagos."

Also, the site Discover Life had similar information and the same photo.

I have added photo of ours and hopefully, they will approve, as the photo on the two sites is not that good.

Fish Identification Peru
by: Allie - 15

More info:

Most of these fish are brightly colored; usually anywhere from a scarlet color to a pale pink.

Armored sea robins have physical characteristics that are very similar to the ones that the fish in your pictures is displaying.

They have bony bodies, large eyes and arrowhead shaped faces.

If you were to ever come across another fish like this, I would avoid touching it; the spines on their gill plates and dorsal fins (on it's back) inject a mild venom, which would cause slight pain in the affected area for two to three days.

These fish are named for their bird-like movements in the water.

I find it rather odd that you'd find such a specimen in Peru, though. From what I know, they live mostly off the coast of North America (especially around North Carolina) and have been reported near the coastlines of Maine.

You're also probably accurate to assume it was thrown aside from a fishing boat, as they're also known as 'junk fish' and discarded or thrown back when caught.

Although it seems this fish was pretty far from the location that the species is usually found, that's probably what it is. It has an nearly identical appearance of sea robins that I've seen in pictures.

Picture of a few armored sea robin:

Sea Robin
by: Allie

I'm almost positive this is a Sea Robin (also known as a gurnard. It has the same body shape and the same color, for the most part.

I could be wrong but I'm almost 100% sure that's what it is :)

Maybe look up some pictures of them on Google to compare the two. Most of these fish are brightly colored; usually anywhere from a scarlet color to a pale pink. Others have a brownish coloration with a white 'marble' pattern.

Sea robins have physical characteristics that are very similar to the ones that the fish in your pictures is displaying. They have bony bodies, large eyes and arrowhead shaped faces.

As I mentioned before, the color of the fish is also one that is common among sea robins.
I'm actually not sure of the specific oceans in which these particular fish reside.

However, using what I already know and after taking a look at your pictures, I think I can safely say that this is, indeed, a sea robin.

You could probably look up 'sea robin' on Google and do an image search. Try comparing the two and you'll probably see the resemblances that I've mentioned. ;)

Some more details on the fish photos
by: David

Hi Simo, thanks for your input.

I checked out the site and at first thought it must be a guitarfish. But later I looked at some other information, and it just doesn't fit well.

For one thing, Wikipedia says, "The guitarfish are known for an elongated body with a flattened head and trunk and small ray like wings. ..."

This has a bony head and no wings. The sides of the head are bony with spikes and skin between them. Also the eyes are more on the sides.

Another thing is that this strange fish was so fresh when we found it we thought it could still be alive. There was no decomposed or missing parts. There were no visible dorsal or other fins usually found on a ray.

I submitted the photos to the site you indicated and hope to hear something back.

In the meantime be sure to take your camera with you... and I'll see you at the point!

Maybe it's a guitar?
by: Simo

It could be the remains of a Rhinobatos prahli, a.k.a. Gorgona guitarfish. Or some other type of ray.

There are some pictures and information at fishbase:

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