The Mtumbawe reef dive site at the Chale Marine Park is an underwater oasis, abundant with fish life and offering scuba divers the chance to see rare 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.
Rather than swimming in the usual fish-like manner, weedy scorpion fish tend to hop or crawl on their pelvic fins before wedging themselves into strategic positions and laying in wait for their prey – usually concentrations of small fish.
Another gem of the waters at Chale is the paddle flap scorpion fish, or the rhinopias eschmeyeri. Although they are also able to swim, they tend to ‘walk’ around using their pectoral fins. Paddle flap scorpion fish are, like their weedy scorpion fish cousins, 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.
The reefs around Diani Beach and Chale are constantly surprising the divers who visit them – you really never know what will be in store until you descend into Kenya’s Indian Ocean.