The Gili Islands, Northwest of Lombok have an abundance of marine life.

One of the most searched fish in the world can be found in the Gili Islands. This rare species belong to the holy grail for underwater photographers and tops critters list; The Rhinopias.

The Rhinopias are classified in the scorpionfish family Scorpenidae, includes only six species. The Paddle Flap Scorpionfish or Rhinopias Eschmeyeri has been spotted in dive sites which includes Hans Reef and Meno Slope.

These unique critters have special characteristics that includes a strange protrusion and upturned mouth with eyes set high on top of their unusual heads. They usually sit motionless between hard or soft corals and utilize camouflage to blend in with their surroundings; just like all other scorpionfish.

Divers can easily identify this species with a narrow body. In general, their body is uniform in colour and can be lilac, white, red
and purple with very few filaments or appendages on the skin. They have two tentacles on their underside of the lower jaw.

These critters rarely swim, however when they do, they move about by crutching along the bottom on their pectoral and pelvic fins. They are predators and will consume any fish and ornamental crustaceans that they can digest. During hunting,
they sit motionlessly for their prey to approach within striking distance.

Sometimes, they will mimic a piece of debris by rocking forward and backward until the prey is close enough for them to lunge forward and suck in its victim. Do not underestimate their mouth size. If you see a Rhinopia yawn, you will notice that they can eat a large prey.

Article By: Mervyn Lye