Leaf Scorpionfish – weird, wonderful and very beautiful

07 Dec 2017

The leaf scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus), also known as the paperfish, has a widespread distribution in tropical waters including the reefs around Kuredu, which is good news for underwater photographers.

Not easy to spot, they have mastered the art of camouflage – so much so that they often sit atop coral or sponges, in full view and can still go unnoticed. Gently rocking from side to side with their head held slightly downwards, they mimic a leaf and unsuspecting prey stray too close. Once within striking distance the leaf scorpionfish extends is large mouth with a lightening-quick motion and gulps the prey inside…SNAP! Lunch! Algae and hydroids can grow on on their skin, and this combined with the small apendages around the mouth, add to their ability to blend in with the environment. Usually growing to 10cm in length, they can sometimes reach more than double that size.

Their beautiful colours of red, white, brown, pink or yellow, the delicate looking body with a stunning sail-like fin standing upright along their back and their sparkling, jewel-like eyes make them popular subjects for underwater photographers.

Take a look at some of the weird, wonderful and beautiful leaf sccorpionfish spotted on the reefs of the Lhaviyani Atoll: