Take care! Scorpionfish have venomous fin and head spines and are one of the reasons why it is always better to look and not touch.
Common Name: Scorpionfish
Scientific Names: Scorpaena species
Description: In the shallows off Malta they are mostly up to 15cm long but various species can grow much bigger. They have a prominent head with a large mouth and high-set eyes and a body that tapers away to the tail. They are masters of camouflage with spines and skin flaps on the head and spiny fins that break up their outline making them difficult to spot. Most are a mottled brownish or red colour.
Distinctive Features: Their brilliantly effective camouflage which makes them difficult to see.
Abundance: As individual fish. At most sites but you are unlikely to see more than 2 or 3 in a dive.
Habitat & Behaviour: Mainly on rocky reefs. They usually remain stationary both to hide from larger fish that might eat them, but also to remain hidden so that they themselves can ambush their next meal.
Reaction to Snorkellers & Divers: Generally they will not move unless provoked and so are easy to photograph once you have spotted them.
Other Notes: There are seven species found in the Mediterranean which are very difficult to tell apart underwater.
Text: Bob Earll
Photo: Russell & Gill Bennett
Video: Bob Earll & Luke Adshead