The order of scorpaeniformes includes many different families which come in variable forms, textures and colors. All of them are very poisonous, some less than others but nevertheless you need to be extremely careful when working with them. Usually they would never charge you if you behave respectfully and responsibly.
Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Actinopterygii, Order: Scorpaeniformes, Suborder: Scorpaenoidei, Family: Scorpaenidae
Most commonly known member of the Scorpaenidae family is the Lionfish genus. Lionfish vary from species to species. All of them have similar features: featherlike fins, distinct facial features and poisonous spikes on their back.
During the day, Lionfish tend to rest on corals or rock. If you approach them slowly you get a good chance to take pictures of them. At night they start to hunt. Some divers experience that Lionfish follow them at night. This is due to the divers’ torches. Lionfish use the light to locate their prey.
Unlike in other parts of the world, Bali’s Lionfish are a natural part of the ecosystem and not invasive.
Common species in Amed:
Spotfin lionfish (Pterois antennata) – red stripes, white body with a dark spot
Devil firefish (Pterois miles) – reddish to tan or grey
Clearfin Lionfish (Pterois radiata) – reddish-brown with about six vertical dark/white bands
Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans) – red, maroon, brown stripes & white body
Dwarf Lionfish (Dendrochirus brachypterus) – very small in size, red coloration and banded antennas.
This camouflaged ambush predator can be found all over Amed’s dive sites. Scorpionfish rarely move and stay in one place. They blend into their environment by letting algae and other microorganisms grow over their bodies. Sometimes it can be very difficult to see them. That’s one of the reasons you should never touch or hold on to anything underwater as you might be placing your hands right onto one of these guys.
The appearance of scorpionfish depends on the environment they live in. Even though there are different species of scorpionfish it can be difficult to distinguish them. They all have 12 to 7 poisonous spines on their back. Some have very long snouts giving them their distinct scorpionfish-like look.
Common Species in Amed:
Tassled scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis oxycephala)
Flasher scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis macrochir)
Sea Goblin (Inimicus didactylus)
Also known as Indian Walkman, demon stinger or devil stinger. This nocturnal predator often lies partly-buried under sand or rocks. They have highly venomous spines which can cause serious injuries. The lower pectoral-fin rays are used as ‘walking legs’.
It can be very difficult to get a good picture of this creature as it blends into its environment perfectly. This makes it difficult to separate it from the background. When the Sea Goblin feels threatened it exposes extremely colorful fins. Looks really cool in pictures from above.
Stonefish (Synanceiidae verrucosa)
This creature is often wrongly identified as a member of the Scorpaenopsis family due to their similar appearance. Once you take a closer look, you will see the significant features which distinguish this fish from the Scorpaenopsis family.
Stonefish are usually brown or grey, and may have areas of yellow, orange, or red.
They can be found in very shallow areas of the reef, which poses a danger to snorkelers who come to close.
These ambush predators carry one of the most toxic venoms found in the animal kingdom. 13 spines on their dorsal area contain the fatal toxin from which it only takes 6 spines to possibly kill a human.
Despite their toxicity they are a great subject for portrait pictures. Make sure to never get too close and especially avoid contact. As they usually won’t move it can be easy to photograph them.
Do not attempt any photoshooting if you feel out of buoyancy control or if there is a surge or current.
Leaf scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus)
The Leaf Scorpionfish (sometimes called paperfish) is one of the least poisonous members of the Scorpaedie family. The venom of the leaf scorpionfish is considerably weaker than that of the lionfish and stonefish. Their color varies from green, red, pink, brown, ocher and yellowish to a ghostly white. As they are really thin they can often be mistaken for a leaf.
Leaf scorpionfish can be portrayed in many different ways and styles. As they seem slightly transparent you could try to position your strobe behind them to get this translucent appearance.