Tag Archives: Scorpionfish

Abstracts: Devil scorpionfish

A devil's scorpionfish in the waters off Hawaii

I had just jumped in the water and submerged my head when I saw something move. The fish immediately plopped down by a rock but I’d already recognized the distinctive shape of a devil scorpionfish. I hung around for a short while hoping it would spread its pectoral fins in its distinctive display, but it never did. The second photo, which has run on the blog before, shows what I was looking for.

Titan scorpionfish

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.

Devil scorpionfish

Devil Scorpionfish displaying

Devil ScorpionfishAnother response to the last edition of the WordPress photo challenge with a theme of ‘All time favorites.’

There’s no doubt that moving to Hawaii has allowed me to gain an appreciation for creatures that live underwater. Where I lived before, in Washington State, getting in the water involved a huge amount of courage, which was rewarded by hypothermia and death 15 minutes later. I still consider it something of a minor miracle that I can jump in the water here, swim around for an hour, and emerge alive!

Photographing those underwater creatures is always something of a challenge. My camera is, essentially, a little point-and-shoot and I have no special lighting. The water is often murky and it’s always moving, I’m moving, the fish are moving. So I’m happy when I get a decent shot.

I spotted this devil scorpionfish when I was following a different fish and saw this unusual-looking ‘rock.’ It’s typical scorpionfish behavior. They have such good camouflage, that they can sit on the bottom in the open and not be noticed. After a few moments, the scorpionfish moved off and, as it did so, flashed the colorful undersides of its pectoral fins. This ‘flash’ serves as a warning to would-be predators that an encounter is not likely to end well for the attacker as the scorpionfish has venomous spines.

As for the other photo, I have it on good authority that his mother loves him.