Weeverfishes and Relatives: Trachinoidei
Northern Stargazer (astroscopus Guttatus): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: Northern stargazers have a squarish head with a flattened top and a large mouth with fringed lips. The eyes are on the top of the head, and there are electric organs in pouches behind the eyes. The first of the two dorsal fins has four or five spines. The anal fin has one spine. The pectoral fins are large, and there is a spine just above each one. The fish's back is dark brown with small white spots. The belly is gray. The first dorsal fin is solid brown, and the second has black and white stripes. The pectoral fins are dark with a pale edge. Northern stargazers grow to a length of 22 inches (56 centimeters) and a weight of 20 pounds (9 kilograms).
Geographic range: Northern stargazers live on the Atlantic coast of North America from New York to North Carolina.
Habitat: Northern stargazers live on sandy bottoms in coastal waters.
Diet: Northern stargazers eat small fishes and crustaceans.
Behavior and reproduction: Northern stargazers lie buried on the bottom with only the top of the head, eyes, and mouth exposed waiting for prey, at which they lunge aggressively and suck into their large mouths. These fish release their eggs into open water. The larvae settle on sandy bottoms until they are about 8 inches (20 centimeters) long and then move farther offshore.
Northern stargazers and people: Northern stargazers are not fished for food or sport. If caught, they should be handled with care, because of the sharp pectoral spines and the electric organs.
Conservation status: Northern stargazers are not threatened or endangered. ∎
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Allen, Missy, and Michel Peissel. Dangerous Water Creatures. New York: Chelsea House, 1992.
Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Knopf, 2002.
"Northern Stargazer." Florida Museum of Natural History. http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/StarGazerNorth/StarGazeNorth.htm (accessed on October 28, 2004).
"Sand Lance." Fisheries and Oceans Canada. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/zone/underwater_sous-marin/SandLance/sandlanc_e.htm (accessed on October 28, 2004).
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Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesWeeverfishes and Relatives: Trachinoidei - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Inshore Sand Lance (ammodytes Americanus): Species Accounts, Northern Stargazer (astroscopus Guttatus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, WEE