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Western Red Scorpionfish

Western Red Scorpionfish

Scorpaena sumptuosa

The Western Red Scorpionfish is endemic to the coast of southwestern Australia, occurring from Esperance to Point Quobba.  The species is one of several hundred in the family Scorpaenidae, a diverse group of bottom-dwelling fishes that have large heads with spiny ridges and long venemous spines.  The Western Red scorpionfish is deep-bodied, with a prominent hump on the shoulder.  Tassel-like appedages cover the body breaking up the outline of the animals body, assisting with effective camouflage and the eyes are elevated on the head.  They have a mottled red to brown colouration, with two vertical broad bands down the body extending onto the fins.

Western red scorpionfish are ambush predators.  They may lay motionless for hours at a time, amonst corals, algae and invertebrates before extending the prehensile mouth and sucking in unsuspecting prey.  They are in the same family as the notorious stonefish, and exhibit a row of toxic spines along the dorsal surface, which become erect if threatened.  Although they are not as toxic as the stonefish, they can still cause a painful sting.  The western red scorpioncod grow to a maximum length of up to 40 centimetres.

Other common names include:  western scorpioncod, western red rockcod, scorpioncod

 

Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty

Western Red Scorpionfish may been observed sitting motionless on the seabed, waiting for their next meal. Their camouflage is excellent and even divers may not see them until close by as they resemble and extension of the surrounding reef.

Image by: S.Teede