Thursday, February 26, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Fiery fish

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Scorpaeniformes

Family: Synanceiidae

This handsome fella/femme is a reef stonefish, most likely Synanceia verrucosa. Most people have heard of stonefish, as they are some of the most venomous fishes in the world, but few get to appreciate their beauty up close. Not surprisingly (considering Australia's track record), they tend to hang out in the indo-pacific region, especially on Australian reefs. They possess thirteen stiff spines on the front part of their dorsal fins, from which the venom can be injected.

They don't use their venom to hunt, but only for protection from predators (and humans). For hunting, they prefer to sit motionless on the reef and snap at passing shrimp and fish. They are beautifully adapted to blend in with the reef and reef rubble, right down to the bright orange blotches that mimic the color and shape of the sponges that grow on the rubble. Fantastic!

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