Scorpaena porcus

The black scorpionfish or Scorpaena porcus is a common fish of predominantly rocky bottoms, although it is possible to spot it sometimes in sandy areas as well. It is mainly distributed in the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, although it is also possible to observe it in the Black Sea and in the Spanish and Portuguese coasts of the Atlantic Ocean. In terms of depths, this species can be found from shallow waters up to 300 meters deep.

The body of Scorpaena porcus can reach a maximum total length of 25 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 and has several spines. Between the eyes, there is the so-called occipital fossette, which in this species is very well developed and is evident to the eye. This species has several cutaneous ramifications all over the head and body, but it does not have these cutaneous appendages on the lower jaw, a feature that allows differentiating this species from similar species of the same genus. Continuing in the head area, another peculiarity that will allow us to differentiate this species is the presence of branched appendages just above the eyes. These appendages are of a length that equals or slightly exceeds the diameter of the eye itself. As for the coloration of Scorpaena porcus, the base color are different shades of brown and reddish. Juveniles of this species have a blackish spot located on the dorsal fin, approximately between spines 8 and 9 of the dorsal fin. In adult specimens, this spot is absent or very little apparent. The caudal fin is characterized by three darker colored bars, one at the base, one in the center and the third at the most distal end of the fin.

Scorpaena porcus 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.

The reproductive season of Scorpaena porcus occurs during the months of May to August.

Scorpaena porcus 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.