This is the bizarre moment a stunned diver spotted the “strangest fish in the Caribbean” walking along the seabed.
Marine expert Mickey Charteris discovered the shortnose batfish in a muddy channel near the island of Roatán, Honduras.
And despite spending years chronicling sea life in the region, he said the oddball creature is the weirdest of the lot.
“It’s hands down the strangest fish in the Caribbean,” he said after spotting the freak of nature skipping through a gulley called French Key Cut.
“It walks slowly searching for prey like crabs and small fishes, but can swim with its tail if it gets spooked. “It resembles a lump of brown sponge that mated with a unicorn.”
In his underwater footage, the spooky fish can be seen with a horn on its head, pushing itself along the seabed with its fins.
Charteris, an expert on marine species, said it looked like a dark wedge from above but had red lips when seen from below. “It’s seen very seldom,” said the 50-year-old author of ‘Caribbean Reef Life’.
“You have to go out of your way to dive in silty channels and shallow sandy flats where there is usually less visibility. “Normal divers would be very lucky to find one out on the reef – once every few years if you dive every day.
“We had heard of a few in that area and went specifically to try to record it. They are not common at all.”
Unlike most species, the shortnose batfish doesn’t have a swim bladder – the gas-filled organ that allows many fish to float without swimming.
“So they must remain on the bottom with no buoyancy control,” said Charteris. “This keeps them low to the ground and close to prey that it sneaks up on.”
The shortnose batfish or Ogcocephalus nasutus is native to the Caribbean and is one of only a handful of fish that adapted to walk.