Cook Islands Biodiversity & Natural Heritage

Scorpaenopsis diabolus


Devil Scorpionfish

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General Information

COMMON NAMES: Devil Scorpionfish, False Stonefish, Humpback Scorpionfish, Stonefish [mistakenly]; German Buckel-Drachenkopf; French Poisson Cirrheux, Poisson-scorpion Diable

TRADITIONAL NAMES: No‘u (RR MG MK MT AK), Nou (AT PK), Nohu (TS TW); Other Polynesian - Nohu Tarao / Nohu Pua (TAH); COMMENT: Aitutaki: one stonefish is known as No‘u Taraua

GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION: NATIVE e.Africa - Marquesas/Tuamotu, Hawai‘i; n. to s.Japan; s. to GBR

COOK ISLANDS STATUS: Native; Marine, near-shore

SIGNIFICANCE LIST: ; Poisonous spines - very serious

KEY FEATURES: To 24cm SL. A well-camouflaged bottom-dwelling fish. When disturbed it displays the orange underside (=innerside) of its Pectoral fins. It is speckled and mottled from pale grey to dark brown. It has a distinctive hump which is often dark brown; and the tail has a distinctive pale band and pale tip. The eyes are close set and bulbous. When disturbed is erects a series of thick venomous dorsal spines.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Scorpaenopsis macrochir is very similar, but smaller max. SL 14cm (vs. 24cm); and it has pectoral fin inner side joint pale with small black spots (vs. dark without black spots), orange without pale or yellow median band (vs. yellow or pale median band), margin orange (vs. grey); submarginal black band is continuous (vs. black spots only on membranes 3-7); mouth not strongly oblique 40-50° to horizontal (vs. strongly oblique, 60-70°).

Enlarged Image of 'Scorpaenopsis diabolus'

Cook Islands Distribution

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Southern Group: Present    Makatea:

Northern Group: Present

Key to Symbols

Pests & Hosts

Relationship Hosts
Venomous - spines Homo sapiens

Scientific Taxonomy

Scorpaenopsis diabolus (Cuvier, 1829)
SYNONYMS: Scorpaena diabolus

TAXONOMY: ANIMALIA; CHORDATA; GNATHOSTOMATA (Jawed Vertebrates); PISCES; OSTEICHTHYES; Scorpaeniformes; Scorpaenoidei; SCORPAENIDAE, Scorpaeninae

More Information

GENERAL NOTE: Scorpionfish have venomous spines that easily penetrate the toughest feet. They are, however, not as toxic as their cousins, the Stonefish. The venom is usually injected by the dorsal spines, although the anal and pelvic spines are equally poisonous. Each dorsal spine has a small venom sac and a groove to enable the venom to be injected. As soon as possible bath the wounds in hot water to promote destruction of the protein toxin. IMPORTANT do NOT burn yourself - the hot water should be tolerable on a non-injured limb. Seek medical help. The toxin is a protein which means that sliced green papaya is useful because it has a high concentration of a efficient protein-digesting enzyme, called Papain.

Vouchers & References

Rarotonga: 1 specimen gillnet Avatiu Pass. ID Sims (Sims88). Mangaia: specimen, College, 9/2000, ID GMcC. Pukapuka: informant reports at NBSAP meeting, 2/2004.

text p.96 Myers (1991 2nd Ed.) Fishes of Micronesia
plate 22a Myers (1991 2nd Ed.) Fishes of Micronesia
p.83 Randall et al. (1990) Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef....
p.147 Burgess et al. (1988) Atlas of Marine Aquarium Fishes (TFH)
plate 19-01 Lieske & Myers (1996) Coral Reef Fishes
plate 20-11 Allen (1997) Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia....

Data Update History (information):
zTX, zB02, zM02, zD02

Web Resources

Citation Information

McCormack, Gerald (2007) Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, Version 2007.2. Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, Rarotonga. Online at Copy citation to system clipboard
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