Venom is the poison certain fishes and other creatures use to stun or kill their victims.
Among fishes, the most deadly venom is found in members of the scorpionfish and
rockfish families. Ichthyologists (scientists who study fishes) consider them as a group
because these fishes all have a bony plate going across the cheek from the eye to the
gill cover. (The gills, located on the sides of the fish, are like lungs; they allow the fish
to breathe by taking in oxygen from the water.)
These members of the scorpionfish family have spines coming from the dorsal (top),
ventral (side) and anal (bottom) fins. Along the sides of each spine are grooves
containing venom glands. People poisoned by turkeyfish venom have nearly died.
The turkeyfish will attack an object, jabbing at it with its dorsal spines. These fishes live
in the tropical areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The Hawaiian lionfish, which lives only in Hawaiian waters, is the most venomous of
Hawaiian reef fishes. You can easily recognize it by the long spines on its fins. Its body
is reddish brown with white vertical stripes, and it may reach 10 inches in length. The
lionfish seems to be fearless, maybe because he knows how dangerous his venom is.
While scorpionfish sit quietly and wait for prey, the lionfish will sometimes join with
other lionfish to herd small fishes into a crack. The lionfish spread their fins to keep the
small fishes from escaping then attack and eat the smaller fishes.
photo by Cy La Tour, Living Fishes of the World, p. 22
photo by Chris Newbert, Fish Watching in Hawaii, p. 57