Scorpaena maderensis

Within the order Scorpaeniformes and the family Scorpaenidae, we find Scorpaena maderensis. It is a species that lives in rocky environments near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and in the eastern Atlantic Ocean where it is present in the Madeira, Azores, Canary and Cape Verde Islands. Specimens of this species can be found at depths between the surface and 40 meters.

The body of Scorpaena maderensis can reach a maximum total length of 15 cm. The body is robust and thick in the anterior part, and laterally compressed as we move to the posterior part of the body. The head is strong and robust with several spines. One of the distinctive features of this species is the absence of occipital fossette behind the eyes, so the cephalic profile is only interrupted by some spines on the head. The cutaneous appendages in this species are very poorly developed and may be present all over the body, including below the lower jaw. The dorsal fin of Scorpaena maderensis is unique, but two regions are easily distinguishable. A first one formed by 12 spines, followed by the second region formed by 9-10 soft rays. The anal fin has 3 spines and 5-6 soft rays, while the pectoral fins are wide and have the upper rays branched and the rest simple; the ventral fins are located in a relatively rear position, and the caudal takes a rounded shape.

As for the coloration of Scorpaena maderensis, the base color are different shades of brown and reddish, with small specks of white all over its body but especially around the axil of the pectoral fin. The pectoral fin has elongated dark spots, while the dorsal fin has brownish spots, and the caudal fin has a pair of dark vertical spots.

Scorpaena maderensis is a nocturnal species, which captures its prey unnoticed and immobile on the substrate, and when the prey is within its reach, it quickly pounces on it with an extremely fast and precise sucking movement of the mouth. Among the prey it feeds on are various species of crustaceans and other invertebrates, as well as small fish.

Scorpaena maderensis is often confused with other species of the same genus. The characteristic features that will allow us to differentiate between these species are...

  • Scorpaena maderensis. Presence of cutaneous ramifications under the lower jaw. Without occipital pit and with the upper pectoral fin rays branched and the others unbranched.
  • Scorpaena notata. No cutaneous ramifications under the lower jaw. Absence of branches on the upper part of the eye, or if present, it is very short.
  • Scorpaena porcus. No cutaneous ramifications under the lower jaw. Large ramifications on the upper part of the eye, which are equal in length to the diameter of the eye.
  • Scorpaena scrofa. Presence of cutaneous ramifications under the lower jaw. Occipital pit present and pectoral fin rays unbranched.