The grumpiest fish that ever lived.

Most people who dive avidly will tell you that one of the most dangerous fish a diver can encounter is the Stonefish. Synanceiidae, the family of venomous stonefishes found in the Indo-pacific, have an extremely venomous set of spines that make up part of their dorsal fin, which can deliver a potentially fatal sting to anyone unfortunate enough to not notice them before treading on what they might’ve just thought was a stone. Luckily enough, i’ve been able to photograph some of these creatures up close and personal both during the day and night.

Synanceia verrucosa, the Reef Stonefish. From what I understand about the stonefish, they’ve mostly been encountered by humans in very shallow water on fringing reefs. On this dive though I managed to find one down at 20 meters, sitting peacefully on a solitary coral head in a sandy desert. I find that their facial expressions aren’t particularly cheerful, but then again I wouldn’t be too happy myself if I had a deadly neurotoxin in two sacs on each one of my 13 dorsal spines. Saying that, having a face like Animal from The Muppets might not put me in the best of moods either.

I found that because the Stonefish is camoflagued, it’s quite easy to get up close to the dude, but once again buoyancy is crucial because of the hazardous nature of the fish. As always, watch where you put your hands and fins for balance, because if theres one specimen in the area and there are alot of small schooling fish around, then most likely there will be a second or even third stonefish in the area. Using a lower flash helped me to capture alot of detail, which is one of the things that makes these fish rather beautiful in their own right. Also, if at all possible, try and get your camera below the subject so as to maintain focus on the fish. As the stonefish is highly camoflagued, it is very easy to loose sight of it on it’s chosen perch, and even in the shot shown here the stondfish seems to be only an extension of the coral head.


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