CMFRI finds rare scorpion fish

Our Bureau Kochi | Updated on May 31, 2020 Published on May 31, 2020

Researchers at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) have found a rare fish at Sethukarai coast in the Gulf of Mannar.

Camouflaged in the seagrass meadows, the band-tail scorpion fish (Scorpaenospsis neglecta), a rare marine species well-known for its stinging venomous spines and the ability to change colour, was found during an underwater exploratory survey of the seagrass ecosystem in the region by CMFRI scientists.

It was the first time this particular species was found live in the Indian waters.

The y rare fish has characteristics that may draw the attention of marine enthusiasts. It has the ability to change colour and blend with the environment to escape predators and for efficient hunting of preys.

“During the underwater survey, this species was first sighted as a coral skeleton. On first look, its appearance was totally confusing as to whether it was a fish at all or fossilised coral skeleton covered with bivalve shells. It started changing its colour since the moment we disturbed it by touching a dead coral fragment. It was noticed that within four seconds, the skin of the fish changed from white to mottled black colour,” said R Jeyabaskaran, Senior Scientist at CMFRI, who led the team of researchers.

Immediately after it was caught, the fish flashed the pectoral fins and the inner side of these fins came in full view, exhibiting bright yellow colour with black band margin, he said.

The fish is called ‘scorpion fish’ because its spines contain neurotoxic venom. “When the spines pierce the victim’s skin, the venom gets injected immediately and it can be extremely painful,” Jeyabaskaran said, adding that consumption of this fish would lead to death.

The specimen was deposited in the National Marine Biodiversity Museum of the CMFRI. This research work was published in the latest issue of the journal Current Science.

Published on May 31, 2020
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