This evening on my beach walk, I borrowed a gull’s dinner so I could take a few photographs.* I was enthralled by the fish’s striking appearance.
The first part of the common name, Honeycomb Cowfish (Acanthostracion polygonius), derives from the unique hexagonal plates of the fish’s carapace (yes, this slow moving species sports armor). Each plate has a dark ring, creating a honeycomb pattern. While cowfish, comes from the spines (that look like horns) over the prominent eyes and sloped forehead.
Measuring about 8 inches long this was an average size specimen. While the bright coloration suggests it was a juvenile. This species is somewhat uncommon in the Gulf of Mexico though there is a known population that hangs out along the coast of Florida.
*After a quick rinse and snapping a few shots I returned the fish to the impatient gull. Bon appétit!