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Rare scorpionfish found in Gulf of Mannar

Scorponfish (Scorpaenospsis neglecta)

Scorponfish (Scorpaenospsis neglecta)  

Discovered alive in Indian waters for the first time

Researchers at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) have found a rare fish from Sethukarai coast in the Gulf of Mannar.

Camouflaged within the seagrass meadows, the band-tail scorpionfish (Scorpaenospsis neglecta), well-known for its stinging venomous spines and ability to change colour, was found during an exploratory survey of the seagrass ecosystem.

This was the first time that the particular species was found alive in Indian waters, said a press release.

The fish has the ability to change colour and blend with its surrounding environment to escape from predators and while preying.

“During the underwater survey, this species was first sighted as a coral skeleton.

On first look, its appearance was totally confusing and we doubted if it was a fish or fossilised coral skeleton covered with bivalve shells.

Colour changing

“It started changing when we disturbed it by touching a dead coral fragment. Within four seconds, the skin of the fish changed from white to mottled black colour,” said R. Jeyabaskaran, senior scientist at CMFRI, who led the team of researchers.

The fish is called ‘scorpionfish’ because its spines contain neurotoxic venom.

Neurotoxic

“When the spines pierce an individual, the venom gets injected immediately and it can be extremely painful,” Mr. Jeyabaskaran said, adding that eating the fish would lead to death.

The specimen has been deposited in the National Marine Biodiversity Museum of the CMFRI. The research work was published in the latest issue of the journal Current Science.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 3:33:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rare-scorpionfish-found-in-gulf-of-mannar/article31717527.ece

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