Scorpaena notata

Scorpaena notata also known as small red scorpionfish is a species of the family Scorpaenidae and belongs to the order Scorpaeniformes. It is a common species in shallow coastal and rocky waters, although sometimes it is also possible to see it in sandy or gravel areas, or even at depths of up to 300 meters. Its distribution includes both the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean, from Madeira, Cape Verde Islands, Morocco, Canary Islands to the Senegalese coasts. It is also present in the waters of the Black Sea.

Source: FAO

The most common size of Scorpaena notata is around 15 cm in length, although specimens up to 24 cm have been described. With a robust body, the diameter of the head is larger than the length of the head. One of the characteristic and distinctive features of this species is the absence of cirri (cutaneous appendages) under the lower jaw of its specimens. It is also characterized by the absence of branched appendages on the upper part of the eyes, or if it has them, they are very short. Another distinctive feature is the presence of a depression just behind the eyes, called occipital depression. In general, the coloration of Scorpaena notata is based on a reddish-brownish color, with a multitude of dark brown spots. It has a dorsal fin, formed by 12 rays followed by 9 soft rays. In the spiny part of this fin, they have a prominent black spot, which is located towards the end of the spiny region. The pectoral fins are wide and have between 17 and 19 soft rays. The anal fin consists of 3 spines and 5 to 6 soft rays, while the caudal fin is rounded and rounded. With the exception of the dorsal fins, the rest of the fins have a mottled pattern with dark brown, dark red or whitish spots. Specimens living in deeper waters tend to have more intense red coloration than those living in shallower waters.

Scorpaena notata feeds voraciously on crustaceans, mollusks and occasionally small fish. Its strategy to capture its prey is to remain completely motionless on the seabed, unnoticed with its coloration, until the prey passes right in front of it. When this happens, and with an extremely fast movement, it engulfs the victim by surprise, which does not have time to react.

During the months of May to June, in the Mediterranean Sea, is when Scorpaena notata spawns. The clutches consist of gelatinous masses inside which the fertilized eggs are deposited.

Scorpaena notata 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.