Gillellus healae Dawson, 1982
Masked stargazer
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Family:  Dactyloscopidae (Sand stargazers)
Max. size:  7.5 cm TL (male/unsexed)
Environment:  demersal; depth range 21 - 73 m
Distribution:  Western Atlantic: South Carolina and northeastern Gulf of Mexico to Florida Keys in USA, and also Aruba.
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 11-15; Dorsal soft rays (total): 27-29; Anal spines: 2-2. Common amongst Dactyloscopidae: Small, elongate fishes. Head usually broad and deep, body tapering and compressed behind. Eyes on top of head, often protrusible; mouth moderate to large, oblique to vertical; jaw teeth minute, in 2 or more series; no teeth on roof of mouth (vomer and palatines). Opercular opening large, gill membrane free from isthmus; opercles membranous, large, usually overlapping on underside of head, typically fringed above with 2 to 24 fleshy fimbriae. Dorsal fin continuous, with an isolated or semi-isolated anterior finlet, or with 1 to 5 separate anterior rays; dorsal-fin spines 7 to 23; anal-fin spines 2; dorsal and anal fins free or united to caudal fin by fragile membranes; pectoral fins broad-based, usually enlarged in mature males; caudal-fin rays simple or branched; pelvic fins under throat (insertion anterior to pectoral-fin base), with 1 spine and 3 thickened segmented rays; all other rays simple. Head and venter naked, body elsewhere with large cycloid scales (smooth to touch); lateral line high anteriorly, deflecting ventrally behind pectoral fin to continue along middle of side to caudal-fin base where terminal lateral-line scale bears ventrally directed canal. Body coloration, variably pale to strongly pigmented with white, brown, or reddish; some forms with characteristic saddle-like bars crossing back; others plain, mottled, or with indications of lateral stripes. Species distinguished by: dorsal-fin origin on nape; fin with an isolated or semi-isolated anterior finlet. Segmented caudal-fin rays usually 10; arched lateral-line scales 22 to 33. First preopercular canal not branched, with a single distal pore. Upper lip without fimbriae (Ref.52855).
Biology:  Burrows in soft sandy bottom, where it waits for prey, with only the eyes, nose and mouth protruding.
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (LC); Date assessed: 04 February 2009 Ref. (120744)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:   
 

Entered by: Torres, Armi G. - 26.08.94
Modified by: Luna, Susan M. - 15.01.14
Checked by: Torres, Armi G. - 27.08.94

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