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Legging it! ‘Strangest fish in the Caribbean’ WALKS along the sea floor on its fins

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‘Strangest fish in the Caribbean’ is filmed WALKING along the sea floor on its fins

  • Diver Mickey Charteris discovered the rare shortnose batfish in a muddy channel
  • It was found in a channel called French Key Cut on island of Roatán, Honduras
  • The creature walks slowly searching for prey like crabs and can swim with its tail 

By Michael Havis For Mailonline

Published: | Updated:

This is the eye-popping moment a diver encounters ‘the strangest fish in the Caribbean’ strolling along the seabed, using its fins for legs.

The rare creature, a shortnose batfish, was filmed in a muddy channel called French Key Cut on the island of Roatán, Honduras.

Spotted by Mickey Charteris, who has spent years chronicling marine life around the region, he said the sea beast might just be the weirdest he’s seen.

Diver Mickey Charteris, who has spent years chronicling marine life around the region, said the creature might just be the weirdest he’s ever seen

‘It’s hands down the strangest fish in the Caribbean,’ he said.

‘It walks slowly searching for prey like crabs and small fishes, but can swim with its tail if it gets spooked.

‘It resembles a lump of brown sponge that mated with a unicorn.’

In the diver’s footage, the shortnose batfish can be seen with a horn on its head, pushing itself along the seabed with its fins.

Mr Charteris, an expert on marine species and the author of Caribbean Reef Life, said it looked like a dark wedge from above but had red lips when seen from below.

It’s a sight most divers will never get to see, he added.

‘It’s seen very seldom,’ said the 50-year-old.

‘You have to go out of your way to dive in silty channels and shallow sandy flats where there is usually less visibility.

‘Normal divers would be very lucky to find one out on the reef – once every few years if you dive every day.

The sea beast walks slowly searching for prey like crabs and small fish but if spooked can swim off with its tail

Rare find: Divers would be very lucky to find one out on the reef, perhaps once every few years

‘We had heard of a few in that area and went specifically to try to record it. They are not common at all.’

Unlike most fish species, the shortnose batfish doesn’t have a swim bladder – the gas-filled organ that allows many fish to maintain their buoyancy without swimming.

‘So they must remain on the bottom with no buoyancy control,’ said Mr Charteris.

‘This keeps them low to the ground and close to prey that it sneaks up on.’

The shortnose batfish or Ogcocephalus nasutus is native to the Caribbean and is one of a handful of fish adapted to walking.

Caribbean Reef Life – A Field Guide For Divers is available from Mr Charteris’ website, www.caribbeanreeflife.com

The odd-looking fish doesn’t have a swim bladder so it must remain on the bottom with no buoyancy control

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