Zanzibar Marine Life: Scorpionfish

The islands of Zanzibar lie off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean and are a breeding ground for many special marine animals.  As a diver descends into one of Zanzibar’s dive sites on the northern tip they are entering a world filled with many different species including Allard’s Anemonefish, long nose butterfly fish, coral crabs and crocodile fish. They are also home for humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins and two different types of sea turtle. There really is a plethora of marine life. Visit the Spanish Dancer Divers site for more information on the fish of Zanzibar.  This article will touch only on a few different species of Scorpionfish.

There are more than 200 different types of scorpionfish, many of which live and flourish in the waters around Zanzibar. Bearded scorpionfish, the decoy scorpionfish, the devil scorpionfish, the yellow spotted scorpionfish and many more are some of the types of scorpionfish you will find on the dive sites located around the islands.A few of the more common ones are names even non-divers would recognize such as lion fish and stone fish. Both are known for their venomous spines that stick out from their bodies giving them an alarming look. The looks of these fish make it a great find while diving and unfortunately make it a popular fish for aquariums worldwide.  The scorpionfish is nocturnal making it a treat to spot on night dives as it stalks its prey as one of the Indian oceans predatory fish. This fish needs its camouflage to hide in amongst the algae and seaweed along the ocean floor to surprise unsuspecting food of crustaceans and other smaller fish. They use their camouflage to disguise themselves from both predator and prey. During feeding time, it lies in wait for food to wander close to the scorpion fish.  It attacks its prey at the precise moment with rocket fast jaws that pack a lot of power. Another method used by the scorpionfish is to herd the small fish into a corner of rocks or reef trapping them there until the fish is ready for its feast.  In daytime hours, they will hide themselves in the crevices of rocks out of dangers way.

While all 200 types of scorpionfish are venomous, divers rarely receive a sting. If a diver or swimmer does become infected with the scorpionfish’s venom it is usually due to human carelessness and the way the scorpionfish hides itself camouflaged into the rocks making divers unawares to its location.  Their bright colours and spines, which are filled with venom, are a warning to marine life and humans alike that it has its own way of protection.  Accidental stings can happen leaving divers feeling intense pain and swelling of the area which will require medical attention.

Camouflage makes the bearded scorpionfish hard to find by predators and divers alike but catching a glimpse of the fish is well worth the searching.

If you would like to read more on the types of marine life found or identify a fish you have seen while diving in Zanzibar check out Spanish Dancer Divers in Zanzibar!