Bearded scorpionfishes, a member of the Scorpaenidae family, are mostly found and distributed in the western Indian Ocean from the Red Sea to the coasts of South Africa and Madagascar. Members of the Scorpaenidae family are mostly bright in color, if not heavily camouflaged, to warn possible predators that they are venomous. These fishes are benthic creatures, or bottom dwellers, and reef-associated which stays mostly on waters of at least 30 meters. They reach a maximum length of 22 centimeters in the wild, and they have 12 dorsal spines and 9 dorsal soft rays.
This creature has 24 vertebrae in its whole body, 5 anal soft rays and 3 anal spines. They feed on mostly crustaceans and smaller fishes that dwell on deeper parts of the water by waiting for the right moment to kill their prey, classifying them as ambush predators. The bearded scorpionfish’s body has pigments of reddish brown to dark brown, molted with blackish and whitish blotches and dark brown bar which often extends vertically from the posterior part of its eye and broadens on its cheeks. All of the spines – dorsal, pelvic and anal spines – have venom glands. Fertilization happens internally in its body, afterwards laying eggs in gelatinous balloons.
Bearded scorpionfishes are venomous and are considered 4th most dangerous creature that can be found underwater. Every part of its body is covered with spines that are connected to venom glands, but are harmless to human beings. The creature’s stings may contain venom but not enough to harm people, but enough to inflict pain on them. It got its name from its similarity to a scorpion, and itself having beard-like facial features.
The bearded scorpionfish is common at our dive sites, however doe to their adjustment to the surrounding they are not easy to spot.