Almost everybody would call snipefishes cute. Perhaps a major reason for this is that the approximately one dozen species of this family Macrorhamphosidae all have big noses. Technically called “snouts,” these protruberances can be as much as a third of the fishes’ entire body lengths and are usually tube shaped. And way at the far end of these snouts are the small toothless jaws.
Snipefishes are also so cute in the way they move. They are not powerful swimmers and often just end up sort of bobbing around in the water, with their heads down. They actually can do pretty good imitations of tropical shrimpfishes, to which they are considered to be distantly related (and which divers love to photograph because of their own cuteness). Snipefishes can get around enough, however, to hunt small free-swimming crustaceans and other planktonic animals. But if snipefishes are instead the hunted rather than the hunted, well, they have the cute ability to outmaneuver their predators by swimming backwards.
Snipefishes received their more popular common name from the marsh bird, the snipe, which is also cute and has a long beak. However, since these fishes’ bodies are rather short and squat in appearance, especially when observed from the side, they are sometimes called “bellowsfishes,” after those chubby old-fashioned fire-blowers which have long tubes at the end.
Snipefishes are typically thought of as inhabiting the waters of deeper areas near the continental shelf. Yet they do at times come closer to shore where they can more readily be observed by both divers and fishermen. They can hang out on the surface of these waters and even enter into the shallower areas where they seek their food around soft bottoms. They range throughout the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, in temperate, subtropical and tropical waters — which doesn’t leave much of the world’s oceans, aside from the extreme polar areas, out of the realm of snipefishes. And this wide-ranging range of snipefishes isn’t necessarily subdivided by the different species.
Off the Southern California coast, one species of cute snipefish, the Slender Snipefish (Macrorhamphosus gracilis), is commonly found and is often in large schools. It is a silvery color, with red or green accents on its back. California divers with a bit of curiosity and nosiness can find this curious-looking, big-nosed cute fish, which ranges from the surface of the water to about 700 feet deep, from Santa Monica south. And east and west as well. For this same exact species of fish can also be found off of South Africa, around Hawaii, and in the Mediterranean Sea — or throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. So it can very honestly be said that the Slender Snipefish to be one of cutest fishes that can be found all around the world.