Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

The Polka-dot Batfish-What a Cool Looking Fish!!

The Polka-dot batfish
(Ogcocephalus radiatus)
is the "unofficial" mascot of
 Rookery  Bay NERR
If you have ever been to the Rookery Bay Reserve Environmental Learning Center, the first thing you probably notice as you walk through the door is the giant larger-than-life model of a Polka-dot batfish staring back at you. I can honestly say, without a doubt it is the most unique fish I've witnessed since working as the local Sea Grant Agent. I've come across them several times when doing trawls within the Reserve or diving the region's artificial reefs. I thought I'd share a little background information and some pictures about this fascinating fish!

Taken from the Rookery Bay Field Guide:
This sluggish, triangular-shaped fish, which can reach up to 15 inches  relies on camouflage and slow, stealthy movements to sneak up on food. Batfish have pectoral fins underneath that help it to “walk” across the bottom. The batfish uses its esca (lure) to attract small prey towards its mouth. The esca juts out just below the rostrum (the point on the fish’s head) and wiggles or twitches to catch the attention of a small fish, crab or shrimp. Once within range, the batfish’s lips shoot forward and down to slurp up the unsuspecting meal. Several batfish species can be found in sub-tropical waters around the world, and this species is commonly caught while trawling in Rookery Bay.
To learn more about the life history and ecology of the Polka-dot batfish visit:

The colors of batfish can vary considerably depending on the
type of substrate it is sitting on. I spotted this about 5 miles off of Naples
in approximately 30 feet of water.

A good profile shot showing how the batfish uses its pelvic fins for support
Photo courtesy of Renee Wilson, Rookery Bay

I came upon this batfish near an artificial reef site
off Marco Island

A batfish caught during a seining trip. Photo courtesy of Chris
Humphrey of Barron Collier H.S.

Another profile shot. Photo courtesy of Chris
Humphrey of Barron Collier H.S.

A great view of the fish's ventral (belly) side. Photo courtesy of Chris
Humphrey of Barron Collier H.S.

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