Thanks for visiting my blog! MudBay World Wonders was created as an addendum to MudBay Musings as my personal way of celebrating God's magnificent creation by posting interesting stories and facts about our complex world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rhinopias Scorpionfish

 Eschmeyer's scorpionfish (Rhinopias eschmeyeri)
Photograph by Jens Peterson, taken at Lembeh Straits, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
Licensed by Wikipedia Commons under GNU Free Documentation License

Beautiful and unusual Rhinopias scorpionfish, sometimes also known as popeyed scorpionfish, live in the Indian and Western Pacific oceans mostly on rubble, sand and small coral reefs.  They may vary considerably in color and design of appendages depending on their environment.  It is widely accepted that specimins found in rocky, algae rich waters are covered in weed-like appendages, and those found in deeper soft-bottomed waters containing soft corals and sponges are more smooth in appearance. 

Merlet's scorpionfish (Rhinopias aphanes)
 Photograph by David Doubilet, copyright National Geographic

Colors can range widely, including dark red, purple, lavender, pink, green, brown, yellow and black.  They have deep laterally compressed bodies with a distinctive head shape, high-set eyes and and upturned mouth.

Weedy scorpionfish (Rhinopias frondosa), yellow variant
copyright Teresa Zubi

Their specialized camouflage allows them to remain virtually undetected by both predators and prey, and mimicking swaying seaweed increases their ability to blend in with their environment.  They rarely swim as other fish do but instead crawl along the sea bottom on their pectoral and pelvic fins.  For added protection, the Rhinopias scorpionfish is armed with venomous spines.

Weedy scorpionfish (Rhinopias frondosa)
Photograph by Jens Peterson, taken at Lembeh Straits, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
Licensed by Wikipedia Commons under GNU Free Documentation License

There are 8 species of Rhinopias. The 3 most common species are:
  • Rhinopias aphanes - Lacy or Merlet's scorpionfish
  • Rhinopias frondosa - Weedy scorpionfish
  • Rhinopias eschmeyeri - Eschmeyer's scorpionfish

Lacy scorpionfish (Rhinopias aphanes)
copyright Dave Harasti

 Cool Rhinopias Scorpionfish Facts:
  • Found in warm waters along coral reefs in depths of 13-90 meters
  • Mostly nocturnal ambush hunters, using camouflage to their advantage
  • May remain in the same location for weeks or months at a time waiting to ambush prey
  • Feed on ghost shrimp, small fish, octopus and other small reef animals
  • Rarely swim, but instead move along the sea bottom propelling themselves with their fins
  • Reach a maximum size in length of spproximately 25cm 
  • Can live to be more than 20 years old

Weedy Scorpionfish (Rhinopias frondosa), purple variant
Photograph by K. Leonard, copyright Aquarium of the Pacific
Photographed at the Tropical Pacific Gallery

1 comment:

  1. Isn't the Merlet's Scorpion fish beautiful? I love the colors... and that deep purple on the Weedy Scorpion fish is just as stunning. WOW, our underworld is a certainly filled with awe inspiring uniqueness! If only I were not so afraid of the water and knew how to swim, it would be a life altering experience to these creature in person!


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