10. Can a Fish be a Critter?

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Can a fish be a Critter?  We don’t see why not, especially when it’s a Scorpionfish.  With a bewildering number of species in this family, the things they have in common are a love of camouflage, striking their prey quickly and defending themselves with some highly venomous spines.  Not your average pretty reef fish, and definitely earning their place on our CritterGuide!


Ragged Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis venosa)

Ragged Scorpionfish

Ragged Scorpionfish

The Ragged Scorpionfish loves the sandy slopes here in  Dauin, where fine filaments covering their bodies attract minute floating algae and other small particles, helping them to hide in plain sight.  Scorpionfish have been known to live for up to 15 years in the wild, spawning millions of eggs during that time.  Baby Scopionfish hang out at the surface until they are big enough to swim down to the reef, keeping them out of reach of most predators.


Spiny Devilfish (Inimicus didactylis)

Spiny Devilfish

Spiny Devilfish

The Spiny Devilfish can actually swim, but seems to prefer crawling slowly over the seabed, using a highly developed set of caudal fins that look like fingers.  When particularly displeased, they fan out their pectorals revealing a vibrant yellow and red warning sign.  Scorpionfish are venomous, not poisonous, meaning the toxin has to be injected through a wound, but it’s still inadvisable to try tickling a Spiny Devilfish just to see their pectoral show; the toxin causes intense pain and swelling.  Just what you want on a dive.


Shortfin Lionfish (Dendrochirus brachypterus)

Shortfin Lionfish

Shortfin Lionfish

The spines of the dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins of Scorpionfish all have venom glands at their bases.  These are mostly used as a defence against the few predators that are brave enough to include them in their diet.  The Shortfin Lionfish is commonly found on ropes, lines and mooring blocks around the Dauin dive sites, only being noticed when they flutter their speckled pectoral fins when disturbed.


Cockatoo Waspfish (Ablabys taenianotus)

Cockatoo Waspfish

Cockatoo Waspfish

A brilliant mimic of a decaying leaf, even down to the way it wafts about in a current, the Cockatoo Waspfish is an opportunistic feeder of small shrimps and crustaceans.  The standard method of spotting them is to approach each leaf you find on the dive, and if it swims away, it’s probably not a leaf, but a Waspfish waiting patiently for its next snack.


Common Lionfish (Pterios miles)

Common Lionfish

Common Lionfish

OK, so not a very rare or difficult to find Critter, but the Common Lionfish is uncommonly beautiful.  A nocturnal hunter, they change character from sleepy and unassuming by day to stealthy and sneaky by night.  The Lionfish has a bad reputation in some parts of the world, where they have been introduced in ways which are still not fully understood.  In the Caribbean, they are an invasive species with no established predator and are a serious threat to the balance and healthy function of coral reefs, and are actively hunted by divers and spearfishers.  Here in the Philippines, where they are meant to be, they are a beguiling distraction on any given dive.

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