Southern Red Scorpionfish, Scorpaena papillosa Click to enlarge image
A Southern Red Scorpionfish at a depth of 5 m, Tathra Wharf, New South Wales, July 2004. Image: Sascha Schulz
© Sascha Schulz

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    papillosa
    Genus
    Scorpaena
    Family
    Scorpaenidae
    Order
    Scorpaeniformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to about 20 cm SL.

Introduction

The Southern Red Scorpionfish has a relatively stout body with mottled colouration. It is a species commonly observed by scuba divers.

Identification

The Southern Red Scorpionfish has a relatively stout body with mottled colouration. It is the only species in the genus Scorpaena that has a pair of coronal spines on the interorbital space. Scorpaena papillosa is a common species that is often observed by scuba divers.

Two species of Scorpaena occur in New South Wales waters, the Southern Red Scorpionfish and the Eastern Red Scorpionfish (S. jacksoniensis). They can be separated by colouration and size. The Eastern Red Scorpionfish is usually bright red. Although its body coloration is quite variable, the Southern Red Scorpionfish is never bright red. It is usually darker, often brown or black, sometimes reddish-brown. The Eastern Red Scorpionfish is a large fish that grows to over 40 cm in standard length, whereas the Southern Red Scorpionfish grows to around 20 cm. Each body scale of S. papillosa usually (nearly always) has dark margin posteriorly but the scales of S. jacksoniensis are not as distinct (H. Motomura, pers. comm.)

Habitat

The species is usually found at depths from just below the surface to 130 m.

Distribution

The species can be found in areas of New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and New Zealand.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



References

  1. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  2. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.