A French cook who went for a dive at the beach of Bali found a fish walking around the seafloor on its legs, filmed it and put it on the Internet suspecting that it was a stingfish that is poisonous. Soon the video has gone viral as National geographic picked the story.
Emeric Benhalassa told National Geographic in an email:”The stingfish came to meet me probably thanks to the light… bizarre and pretty … I thought that this could please the Internet.” Soon scientists confirmed that the odd creature is likely a member of the genus Minous, more commonly known as stingfish.
“They have venom glands at the base of the dorsal spines and when the spine is pushed into a person’s skin, the venom is essentially injected into the wound,” said Jeff Williams, ichthyologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Though stingfish doesn’t have legs, parts of the fish’s pectoral fins have separated through evolution, explained Hiroyuki Motomura, a marine biologist at the Kagoshima University Museum in Japan. Stingfish use these “pectoral filaments” to probe the mud for worms and crustaceans.
Williams categorizes it as a stingfish, Minous trachycephalus but Leo Smith, an ichthyologist at the University of Kansas’s Biodiversity Institute, disagrees citing tail color. “I don’t think it is M. trachycephalus because M. trachycephalus has a tail with alternating dark and light stripes,” he said.
Stuart Poss, an ichthyology research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, says that it could be another M. quincarinatus, of the whitetail goblinfish. Or it could be an entirely a new species, as Motomura believes.
And the debate goes on…