Unidentified fishy object

The wonderful thing about diving is that you always come across something strange. A heap of sand with a slivery fish poking its head out, a spurt of sand as a ray darts past you. This however was possibly one of the strangest things I have seen. Out of the 2 meters of visibility on a small inshore wreck in Unawatuna, I spotted a tiny black shape where the sand met the wreck. As I moved in closer to take a look, the shape resolved itself into a small object with what looked like two wings on either side, splayed wide as I came closer.

The shape of whatever it was so odd that I could not figure out what it was, fish or invertebrate. The surge across the wreck made it quite hard to get a good look or take a photo as no sooner had I gotten close to take a look or focused on the creature, the surge swept me past the creature.

Finning furiously and almost standing almost on my head to get as close to it without inadvertently crushing it I noted with some surprise that it looked like an underwater toad, big bulbous eyes and a short snout. To make the creature look a bit more medieval and possibly even more unbelievable on either side were two large pectoral fins, bright white in spots in contrast to the sand and black of the creature. The final touch was a ratty tail that seemed to have been tacked on as an afterthought.

It wasn’t the fleetest footed animal I had seen overland or underwater. It didn’t seem to be able to swim but flip flopped on its ‘wings’ away from me as I endeavored to take a photo, moving only a small distance however before seemingly being exhausted and sinking down in the sand and watching me with its liquid eyes.

We played an odd game of cat and mouse as I tried to get a decent photograph amongst the whirling sand and surge. We must have made an odd site, me finning around furiously standing on my head while the creature waddled along the bottom on its wings going around in circles.

Back on the boat Nishan made an initial identification of the fish being a Sea Moth and after some more research it seems to be Eurypegasus draconis , the short dragonfish though this is yet to be confirmed. Just another dive, just another critter.


Rex De Silva said...

Hi Naren,
Your "UFO" is a short Dragon-fish (Pegasus draconis). The species is not uncommon in Sri Lanka, although it is often overlooked. Sri Lanka has three species of Dragon-fishes.

Rex De Silva said...

Yes, Eurypegasus is probably the "new" generic name.