Facts About Sea Robins

Sea robins are known bottom feeders.
Sea robins are known bottom feeders. (Image: Karl Weatherly/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Sea robins are a bottom feeding species of fish that can be found in warmer ocean waters all over the world. Europeans often call sea robins gurnards because of the sounds they make. Gurnard comes from the French word "grogner," which means "to grunt" -- a common sound associated with sea robins. They can provide a fun experience for saltwater fisherman since they are easy to catch, but they are not held in high regards for their meat.

Pectoral Fins

Sea robins get their name because of their pectoral fins. When sea robins swim, their pectoral fins will open, spread out and look very similar to a bird’s wings. The bottom two or three sections of the pectoral fins stretch out from the body and form separate little feelers. These feelers are used to locate mollusks, crustaceans and other bottom dwelling prey. These fins are also used to help sea robins move along ocean bottoms.

Overall Appearance

Sea robins come in a variety of colors depending on their species. Many of the species have armored plates on the body, and the normal body size is between 12 and 16 inches. The most noticeable non-physical characteristic associated with sea robins are the sounds they make. They have muscles that come together and make contact with their swim bladder. This makes a drumming sound, which is why people call them drumming muscles. When caught, they often make croaking sounds similar to a frog.

Fishing Information

Sea robins are a fish commonly caught by people saltwater fishing for fluke, sea bass and other types of fish. They will eat almost any type of meat that is cast out to the sea floor. They are edible, but most fishermen consider them a trashy fish or a bait stealer. These terms are used for fish that are normally undesirable to catch. They are not commercially fished in North America like other saltwater fish are.

Habitat Information

Sea robins are bottom feeders that live in depths of up to 660 feet. They prefer bottoms that are sandy and smooth, and are rarely seen in rocky or muddy bottoms. When they are spooked, they will hide by burying themselves in mud. The only thing that is visible when they are buried is their eyes. In North America, the northern sea robin and the common sea robin are prevalent in the ocean waters of southern New England.

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