Smallscale Scorpionfish hail from a family (Scorpaenidae) with many members that have exceptional camouflage. Many employ patternation, coloration, skin textures, and even folds, flaps and ‘frills’ of skin that help the fish to blend in seamlessly with their background. On many an occasion, I have swum straight past a scorpionfish and not noticed it resting on a rock covered in coraline algae. Only when it breaks cover to escape my lumbering form does the fish become clear.
Such camouflage is necessary for an ambush predator that prefers to stay motionless and hidden until its prey ventures near. Only then will the fish open its cavernous mouth to engulf its prey.
The fish pictured above, resting in a bed of xenia, shows just how much the species can alter their coloration to blend in. I wouldn’t say this is best-camouflaged scorpionfish I’ve ever seen, but full marks for effort!
Normally, these fish show a range of colors between pinks and brick reds; I have never seen one quite this pale.