Bulletin 8 - July 1979: Fishes of Abu Dhabi (Part 5)

Fishes of Abu Dhabi (Part 5)

by Roger Brown

Another two fairly common fishes found in Abu Dhabi waters are Cepholopholis argus and Platycephalus indicus.

Cepholopholis argus

Commonly known as the Black Grouper it is, as implied, one of the Grouper family.

Description: A light brown body (see sketch for shape) containing many small dark-rimmed, light-blue, spots. The fins are of the same body coloring but with dark fringes. C. argus has a prominent eye and a very large mouth, characteristics of all fish in the Grouper family.

Habits and habitat: Normally found in areas where coral is abundant, making its territorial area in a suitably-sized coral cave. C. argus has been observed in two areas locally -- the Batin deep channel and in the channel north of Bahrani Island. It is a predator and eats practically any fish small enough to fit into its large mouth.

Platycephalus indicus

Commonly known as the Bat-tailed Flathead, or Wahat in Arabic

Description: Body shape as shown in the sketch. A most unusual shape with a very flattened bony head with eyes on top. The dorsal and anal fins are transparent. The tail is a pale yellow with black markings. It is a brown-spotted fish with reddish-brown above and white below. Its dorsal spines are very sharp and poisonous. Although P. indicus is known to grow to about 50 cm it has never been recorded above 30 cm in the Abu Dhabi area.

Habits and habitat: This fish has only been seen in one area locally, near the Tourist Club. Its habits are not well known but it appears to favor shallow, sandy-bottomed areas where it buries itself with only the eyes and the top of the dorsal fin visible. In spite of its poisonous spines it is a very shy fish and generally keeps well away from human activity.


R.H. Carcasson, A Field Guild to the Coral Reef Fishes of the Indian and West Pacific Oceans.


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