Animal of the Month - The beautifully odd Rhinopias
The weird and wacky looking guys are one of our faves. The Rhinopias are part of the scorpionfish family, but have a tad more character than their blob-like siblings, who still however have an awful lot of character!
The Rhinopias is much sought after due to it's rarity and picturesque nature. They tend to be unusually shaped and quite unique in their coloring. A photographers dream!
If they need to swim, the opt for more of a hop or they use their pectoral and pelvic fins to walk slowly across the seabed. They do prefer just staying put, and tend to sway slightly with the current or surge, so that they look just like a pile of algae. If there is no current, they will rock themselves forward and back to mimic debris.
They are really quite lazy, when hunting they prefer not to chase their targeted prey. They wait motionless until the prey is within striking distance. The Rhinopias lunge forward, opening their huge mouths, and suck in their victim. Perfect for us divers, as once they are spotted they tend to stay put. We have seen one particular rhinopias at Turtle Heaven, and he has been there for weeks! A guaranteed picture opportunity for our lucky customers.
Be sure not to get too close when checking out these funny faced fish. Like the scorpionfish, they have venomous spines that pack a nasty sting if they manage to get you. They are not aggressive, but will sting if they are threatened or intimidated.
The Rhinopias species belong to the scorpionfish family, which is known scientifically as the Scorpaenidae. The genus contains only five species, and none are considered to be common. However, their apparent rareness may be due in part to their secretive behavior, fantastic camouflage skills and the fact that some of the species live in places that are not widely explored.
Their faces are what makes them the most interesting. Eyes sit high on top of their head, and some even seem to have human-like eyebrows. A large turned down mouth at the bottom of a long head, often with dermal appendages on the jaws as well as on their bodies.
We love these guys and have been spotting more and more on our dives around the Gili islands. Some of the dive guides can even almost guarantee a picture opportunity as we know their hiding places.