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Striped Burrfish

Chilomycterus schoepfi

The striped burrfish has a round body and a parrot-like beak. (Kevin Bryant/Flickr)
The striped burrfish has a round body and a parrot-like beak. (Kevin Bryant/Flickr)

The striped burrfish is a small, yellowish-green puffer fish covered with short, sharp spines. It visits the Chesapeake Bay’s grassy flats from spring through autumn.


The striped burrfish's short, round body is yellowish-green with dark, wavy stripes and grows to 10 inches in length. Its head and body covered with short, sharp spines. Large, dark spots appear at the base of the dorsal fin, and above and behind the pectoral fins. It has a strong, parrot-like beak.


Mostly solitary bottom-dwellers, found in areas near bay grass beds.


Visits the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay from late spring to autumn, when its range reaches as far north as the Patuxent River. Leaves the Bay to spend winter in warmer southern waters.


Striped burrfish feed on invertebrates such as barnacles and hermit crabs. They uses their powerful beak-like jaws to crush and consume prey, and sometimes eat prey whole – shell and all!


This fish fends off predators by puffing its body into a spiny ball.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

Little is known about the reproductive cycle of the striped burrfish; it is believed to spawn offshore at night.

Other Facts:

  • Burrfish are not very good swimmers. They move by squirting water out of their gill openings, which jets the fish forward.
  • If you happen to catch a spiny burrfish while fishing, please use extreme care when handling the fish to avoid getting injured by its sharp spines or powerful beak.

Sources and Additional Information:

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