Rhinopias are especially rare and amazing species of scorpionfish and they are back in Lembeh! Their name comes from Greek “rhino” meaning nose and “ops” meaning appearance in reason of their extremely curved snout. There are 6 different species of Rhinopias in the world and 2 can be found in the Indonesian waters: the paddle-flap scorpionfish (Rhinopias eschmeyri -the one on the picture) and the weedy scorpionfish (Rhinopias frondosa), but muck diving lovers prefer to call them paddle-flap or weedy rhinopias to distinguish them from the quite common although beautiful scorpionfishes like the ones belonging to the “Pterois” genius like the spot-fin or the common scorpionfish, are another of the 25 genera and 222 species of scorpionfish.
During a few years, rhinopias have not been spotted in Lembeh, as it is explained in this blog written 7 months ago. The juvenile rhinopias displayed on the picture of this blog has well grown since, and now he´s displaying beautiful red colors. Moreover, another paddle-flap rhinopias has been found last week with Two Fish Divers in another dive site in Lembeh, showing that Rhinopias are back in Lembeh, and even though we cannot guarantee anything in the natural underwater environment, we might have a Rhinopias season! In many places, I have experienced big differences regarding the number of individuals of the same species from one year to another. One year, one particular species can be scarce and the next year, we can observe a “demographic explosion” of the same species. The reason for this can be the different weather and current conditions influencing the availability of the food and the dispersion of the larva.
Although Rhinopias can be frequent in some places, it is not the case in Lembeh, like most of the places in the world. All the species live in the Indo-Pacific area. The paddle-flap Rhinopias is easy to identify. He usually displays one single color (generally red, pink, yellow, light brown, purple, blue or orange). Like the frogfishes, they can change their color over a few weeks in order to blend with the environment and like the frogfishes, they prefer to walk using their fins on the sea bottom than to swim. They hardly feature any skin filament, but they have big eyebrows and mustache-like appendages respectively over their eyes and mouth, and they present big-rounded pectoral fins.
These fishes are sought-after by the underwater photographers, because of their rarity and their beauty. Their immobility also helps to take great shots, but we must remind the photographers to be reasonable and responsible for the number of photos taken in order not to disturb them too much. Unfortunately, they are also sought-after by the aquarium trade!
We just hope we will have a great Rhinopias season with Two Fish Divers Lembeh this year. Our dive guides are working on it!