The Mtunbawe reef at the Chale Marine Park is an underwater oasis abundant with fish life and offering divers the chance to see rarely spotted marine life.
The weedy scorpion fish, or to give it its proper name, the rhinopias frondosa, is one of these rare finds. It is a distinctive looking fish belonging to the scorpaenidae family. It is covered in weed-like appendages with an upturned mouth, tentacles on the nose and skin flaps covering its body. Weedy scorpion fish are an uncommon, colourful sight, usually found on the reef or rubble surrounding corals. They often appear entirely still.
Weedy scorpion fish are poor swimmers and tend to hop or crawl on their pelvic fins instead of swimming, before wedging themselves into strategic positions and laying in wait for their prey. They feed on concentrations of small fish.
Another gem of the waters at Chale is the paddle flap scorpion fish, or the rhinopias eschmeyeri. Unlike its weedy scorpion cousin, the paddle flap scorpion fish can walk. Although they are also able to swim, they tend to ‘walk’ around using their pectoral fins, which give the appearance of walking. Paddle flap scorpion fish are equally colourful creatures that blend in with their environment with a preference for laying motionless, ready to ambush their unsuspecting prey.
It is unusual for the weedy scorpion fish and the paddle flap scorpion fish to inhabit the same area for months at a time, adding to the uniqueness of a dive at Chale.