I was snorkeling recently, when I saw something distinctive on some rocks. At first I thought it was an octopus, but it didn’t look right. A lobster perhaps, but again something was amiss. Then I realized that the fin shapes I was seeing those of a scorpionfish. I focussed in with my camera and the fish scooted forward and disappeared into a crack and beneath a boulder before I could get a shot.
When I got home, I looked at my fish book and figured out that I’d probably seen a titan scorpionfish. The only scorpionfish I’ve seen previously have been devil scorpionfish, which are easily identified by their distinctive and colorful pectoral fins. The titan scorpionfish is more colorful overall but without such a distinctive signature. However, it’s the largest scorpionfish in Hawaii and the one I saw was big.
Next day, I was snorkeling in the same general area and I saw a reddish, mottled fish moving. ‘That looks familiar,’ I thought. This time the fish plunked down onto a rocky area and stayed put so I was able to get a good look at it and take some photos, of which this was the best. It was indeed a titan scorpionfish, probably the same one I’d seen the day before. I even saw the loose flaps on its lower jaw which are a prime identifying mark.
Even though I knew where it was, there were times when I looked and thought it had moved on before I could pick it out again, so well does it blend in with its surroundings.