KUCHING: The ‘alien fish’ caught last Sunday near Tudan in Miri may be ‘armoured searobin’ or ‘armoured gurnard’ from the Peristediidae family of scorpaeniform fishes which are found in deep tropical waters around the world.
The Borneo Post published the story on Wednesday and some readers have responded to it, commenting that it was “Satyrichthys welchi, A.K.A Robust Armoured Gurnard” and another said that it looked like “searobin” found on the East Coast of the US.
Sarawak Forestry Corporation director Oswald Braken Tisen when contacted guided The Borneo Post on what to look up on the Internet but said he was not an expert in the area.
In an Internet search, the mysterious fish matches the description of an armoured searobin or armoured gurnard of Peristediidae family which dwells 50 to 300 metres beneath the surface of ocean.
An armoured searobin or armoured gurnard is encased in heavy spine-bearing plates with prominent spines and have prominent and elaborate barbels on their lower jaw. The name “searobin” came about due to their large pectoral fins which open like wings when the fish swims. The fish was said to make a croaking noise like that of a frog and thus its other name, “armoured gurnard”.
According to G.C. Miller (retired), St. Simons Island, Georgia, USA and W.J. Richards, National Marine Fisheries Service, USA, armoured searobin has the diagnostic characters of a body being enclosed by four rows of spinous scutes on each side. They have large heads and bony with many ridges and spines as well as a broad snout and flattened dorsoventrally.
Though the search on Internet does not rate armoured searobin as rarity, the name however appeared on the blogs of anglers across the world, with the same exclamation when catching the ‘alien fish’ for the first time: ‘What on earth is this?’
After an online search, these deep sea anglers would no longer be as impressed as the first catch.
The more experienced anglers call it a “trash fish” along side with dogfish or skate as it is not meant for dining. Those who tried said “little meat with a lot of small bones and not even tasty”.
There were also dried and preserved armoured searobin for sale on the Internet, priced at USD29.95 and listed under “dried and preserved marine specimens”.