Scorpionfishes are named for the venomous fin spines found on many of these species. The most dangerous of them is the stonefish, which has caused fatalities from wounding humans with its spines. Fortunately, stonefishes (or nohu in Tahitian) do not patrol Hawaiian waters, although people have mistakenly called the larger Hawaiian species stonefishes. Researchers believe early Tahitian immigrants applied the name to the large Hawaiian scorpionfishes after failing to find the stonefish in Hawaiian waters. Next up in terms of venom strength in Hawaiian scorpionfishes are lionfishes and turkeyfishes.
The devil scorpionfish presents venomous spines down their backs and colorful pectoral fins to warn others of danger. Their yellow and orange arched stripes and black spots show when they scurry away across the ocean floor or over coral reefs where they will sit and wait to ambush their prey. Devil scorpionfishes usually feed at dusk or during the night and love to feast on small fish and crustaceans that unknowingly venture too close.
The devil scorpionfish and others in the family are known for their camouflage, and some display fleshy flaps and small tentacles on their body and head.
Stay safe when snorkeling or diving by avoiding touching the reef and never sticking your hands into crevasses where these fish or other potentially harmful sea creatures may be hiding. A sting from scorpionfish in Hawaiʻi is very rare, but so is seeing one. Keep a vigilant eye while exploring underwater, and you may get lucky enough to witness this ambush predator waiting on a rock or coral or even scooting along a sandy seafloor.
*Due to the constant rotation of animals back to the ocean, we cannot guarantee the presence of any specific animal.