Very rare fish with face poking out of sand seen in S'pore waters, amuses many

It was waiting for its prey.

Amber Tay | June 06, 2024, 05:13 PM



Gaping mouth, bulging eyes, and with a face protruding out of the sand.

The fish was found on the shores of Singapore during an intertidal exploration.

A video of the fish, posted to "The Untamed Paths" Instagram account on May 18, has gone international and garnered over 54.5 million views.

Dennis, the 30-year-old founder of "The Untamed Paths", shared with Mothership that this was the first time they saw that particular species of fish in Singapore after organising many guided intertidal tours.

A rare encounter in Singapore

The fish, a longnosed stargazer, is rather elusive and usually encountered when scuba diving, said Dennis.

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A post shared by The Untamed Paths (@untamed_paths)

He explained that longnosed stargazers bury themselves in the sand with only their heads exposed, seemingly gazing at the stars while waiting for unsuspecting prey.

Similar to stonefishes and scorpionfishes, longnosed stargazers also possess venomous spines that can deliver painful stings.

Dennis said spotting the strange fish was exciting, as it was a rare encounter in Singapore.

"New fear unlocked"

Online commenters, on the other hand, were slightly spooked as the fish looked terrifying.

Screenshot via @untamed_paths/Instagram

Screenshot via @untamed_paths/Instagram

Screenshot via @untamed_paths/Instagram

Screenshot via @untamed_paths/Instagram

Screenshot via @untamed_paths/Instagram

"These animals that live in our midst should not be seen as ugly, unwanted nor feared and that was not what the video was intended for," said Dennis, when asked if he had anything to say in response to the online comments.

He added:

"I think that such marine creatures evoke a sense of wonder, awe and appreciation for the natural world. There is so much to observe, discover and learn about these fascinating creatures in the world that we live in, especially so in Singapore, where we are in a region of great marine biodiversity," he said.

"Our dream was always for us to be the bridge between human and wildlife and to build positively on the curiosity that these animals bring to us," he added.

He added they hope that when people think of biodiversity in Singapore, they consider naturally occurring wildlife across the country's diverse ecosystems from forests, mangroves and the intertidal zone.

Sometimes seen at the northern shores of Singapore

According to Wild Singapore, the "bizarre pop-eyed fish" is sometimes seen at the northern shores of Singapore, usually buried in sand bars and sandy shores near seagrass areas with only their tiny eyes sticking out.

A full-body photo of a longnosed stargazer (Photo via Wild Singapore)

The fish is believed to only emerge from hiding at night and lurks buried in the sand.

With its gaping mouth open, the longnosed stargazer lies and wait for unsuspecting fishes, octopuses and squids to wander by.

The prey are then lured in by the fish's worm-like filaments on its lips and nose, baiting these victims to their deaths.

Top photos courtesy of Dennis.