Sea robins are mostly tropical and subtropical ﬁsh of the Triglidae family, characterized by split pectoral ﬁns that consist of stiff separate rays on the lower half and broad, soft, winglike rays on the upper half. The upper rays are not as large as in the similar-looking ﬂying gurnard but are used for the same purpose—swimming. The lower rays are used to find food by sifting through debris and turning over rocks.
Sea robins also use their pelvic and pectoral ﬁns to “walk” across the bottom as they search for ﬁsh, shrimp, squid, clams, and crabs to satisfy their insatiable appetites. They are often brightly colored, are capable of making loud noises by vibrating muscles attached to their air bladders, and inhabit moderately deep waters. These fish spawn throughout the summer, their eggs ﬂoat on the surface, and the young grow quickly during the ﬁrst year.
One of the more well-known ﬁsh of this group is the northern sea robin (Prionotus carolinus), which occurs from Nova Scotia to northern South America but is uncommon north of Massachusetts. It averages 12 inches in length and may reach a length of 18 inches.
A black, mottled ﬁsh with an olive-brown or gray background, the northern sea robin has a large head that is covered with bony plates and spines and has a distinct black chin. It is a bottom-dweller, moving close to shore during the summer and to deeper water in the winter.
Other Atlantic species are the striped sea robin (P. evolans), which is distinguished by a few dark bands on its sides, and the leopard sea robin (P. scitulus), an almost footlong species with dark blotches, common in the Gulf of Mexico and the southern Atlantic.
Label: saltwater fish