by J.-C. Hureau
Medium-sized bottom fishes; body elongate; head large, covered with bony plates with many ridges and spines but without barbels; ventral face of head, flat; bony spines projecting forward on snout in some species; very strong preopercular and opercular spines; snout steep, prolonged forward by a denticulated and bilobed flattened rostrum (preorbital bones); mouth terminal to slightly inferior; villiform teeth present in both jaws. Two separate dorsal fins, the first 8-11 spines, the second with 13-19 soft rays; base of dorsal fins are bordered with sharp spines or scutes; pectoral fins short to long, with the 3 lowermost rays free, detached from the remaining finrays. Body covered with scales; some species have enlarged, scute-like lateral line scales. Gurnards inhabit the continental and insular shelves of tropical and temperate seas to depths of 500 m; found on sandy and muddy substrates or rubble, using the free pectoral rays for support and for search for food (crustaceans, molluscs). Using their swimbladder, they can emit growling or grunting sounds. After a pelagic phase the juveniles migrate to the bottom of shallow coastal waters.
Genera about 12; in Clofnam area 5.