Spotted A Flying Gurnard At Kuhio (Waikiki) Beach

by Cary Bennett
(Roswell, GA)

Flying Gurnard...another first for me!!

Flying Gurnard...another first for me!!

I spotted a Flying Gurnard at Kuhio Waikiki Beach, but it took me a while to figure out what it was.

I was wading into the water after enjoying the sunshine on the beach across from the Marriott Waikiki Beach where we were staying last week, when I looked down and spotted something very strange on the bottom. I was watching out for coral chunks (ouch) and saw something on the bottom that I initially thought was a bit of seaweed rolling around, but a second later, I realized that it was not seaweed, instead, it was something crawling along the bottom.

It resembled a really large "dragonfly". It was sandy beige with light brown "bands" that created a great camouflage against the sandy bottom. It also had a single black "antennae-like" thing in the middle of the top of it's "head". It appeared to me to be 4 or 5 inches in length. I watched it for a couple of minutes (and, of course, I didn't have my camera in hand...drat) and walked over to the lifeguard to ask if he might know what it was. He had no idea. I grabbed my small tube (and camera) and laid across it so could float and scan the bottom. No luck. It was gone.

It wasn't until we went on the trip out to Turtles Canyon, and the guide who was briefing the novice scuba divers on the marine life they might encounter, was able to identify the critter for me. It was a "Flying Gurnard". Now, seriously, having grown up in Miami, Key Biscayne, and spent lots of time in The Keys, I am pretty well versed in marine life. But, this, I had never seen nor heard of!!! Another first! Above, I have posted a photo of a Flying Gurnard that I found online so that you can see what they look like.

Comments for Spotted A Flying Gurnard At Kuhio (Waikiki) Beach

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Oct 14, 2012
Spotted Gurnard
by: Tom & Jan Turner

We ran into our first Flying Gurnard in the Cayman Islands a couple of years ago. We were stumped also, and very impressed by the strange, beautiful characteristics of this fish. We have seen a few since then, always in the Caymans.

Apr 12, 2018
Just Saw Another
by: Jason

Saw the same thing about one foot long swimming inshore during high tide in the sandy section of Waikiki, straight out from the Hale Koa volleyball courts. After an hour on Google I found this as the first reference to it being a species in Hawaii. Thank you for the only picture and reference to it being a species in the area that popped up without determined searching.

Apr 15, 2018
Flying Gurnard inside Waikiki Breakwater
by: Chris Miller

I saw a Flying Gurnard between 8 and 10 inches long inside the rock wall swimming area on Waikiki Beach on Thursday 12th of April 2018. I'd never seen anything like it before and its appearance and its behavior (apparently digging in sand with front fin) caught my eye. I followed it for probably twenty minutes.

Jan 05, 2020
by: Anonymous

Saw a little one today same location, about 5 inches long!

Feb 08, 2020
Flying Gurnard at Waikiki
by: Anonymous

I was snorkeling today and saw a mature Flying Gurnard on the bottom just east of the Hawaiian Village in three feet of water. Maybe 12 inches long. Most exotic fish I’ve ever seen. Spent 30 minutes on Google trying to ID the fish. I thought at first it was an out of place lionfish as it looks like it means business. It was on the sandy bottom filtering the sand.

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