Prionotus tribulus

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Bighead searobin found at CSI in North Carolina

Bighead searobin - Prionotus tribulus

Habitat The Bighead searobin is found on mud-sand bottoms, most commonly in bays. Their juveniles however are found in estuaries.

Range This species is found in the Chesapeake Bay to northern Florida and Gulf of Mexico. It is also found from southern Florida to Texas, and occasionally it is also found around Cape Sable to southeastern Florida.

Description This searobin has a large head with bony ridges and spines. Their color is usually dark with greenish-grey mottling on its back. Its belly is white. The 1st dorsal has a black spot. Its pectoral fins are large and wing-like. It sometimes has yellow edges and a white edge on the underside of the pectoral fins. They have dark pectoral fins with lighter banding with no spots and a oblique bar under their soft dorsal fin. Searobin do not have venomous appendages like some of their cousins the Scorpionfish. They use their extremely pointed spines sticking out of the two dorsal fins on its body for self defense. A main feature of this fish is its modified pectoral fin which splits into three spiny "fingers" which it uses to "taste" the water and surrounding substrate as it looks for food.

Ecological Notes The Bighead searobin is dioecious and they fertilize externally. Searobin spawn from June to September with July and August because that is the peak of the season. Their eggs are buoyant, so they are pelagic and the adults are mainly benthic. Their lifespan is about 7 to 9 years, but the longest known living one was recorded to be 11 years old. These searobin can make a "grunting" noise by beating on their swim bladder when they feel threatened.

Personal Information This Bighead searobin was caught while fish trawling at Coastal Studies Institute in North Carolina.


Bighead searobin

Prionotus tribulus

Reproduction of Prionotus tribulus

Prionotus tribulus

Journal Articles For information on searobin

-Check out this paper on Bighead searobin and other species of searobin in North Carolina. The paper is all about where they are, how many are in the area, and their sizes. Schwartz, Frank J., "Searobins (Family Triglidae) and Armoured Searobins (Family Peistediidae) (Scorpaeniformes) In North Carolina and Adjacent Areas: Distributions, Abundances and Sizes", Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science , 121(4), 2005, pp. 157–169

-Here's another paper of different kinds of searobins and other fish. This paper explores the types of prey eaten by fishes and two common species of squids in continental shelf waters off the northeastern United States. It is interesting to find out more about what these animals eat. Bowman, Ray e., Stillwell, Charles E., Michaels, William L., Grosslein, Marvin D., "Food of Northwest Atlantic Fishes and Two Common Species of Squid" NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE-155, pp. 1-137

Contributed by Paige Arkangel - 2018

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