Unique Scorpionfish “Nesting Den” Habitat in Corsair wreckage site (UPDATE)

UPDATE: Tyler and I were apparently witnessing a scorpionfish orgy of epic proportions and I need to update my LinkedIn profile to include experience as a “fish porn” director. 🙂 I’ve had a couple different people say that these fish are known to congregate and mate during specific seasons but this is apparently a very large population / example of that and it appears to be pretty rare to witness it. I’m still researching if they always go back to the same place and getting more details of the behavior. Fascinating.

Original story:

While Tyler and I were diving the Corsair (more on that later), we noticed something neither one of us has seen before. Below is an un-color-corrected photo straight out of the camera that I took shortly after finding the wreck:

Look Closely – “Nesting” Scorpionfish

When we first got to the bottom, we found the Corsair and then started looking around as our eyes adjusted and noticed a TON of fish congregating on the bottom. At first, I wasn’t sure if they were alive or what the shapes were.

Then I started seeing them move.

I’ve sent out a few emails to try to identify if this is “normal” or if we found something unique that marine biologists would be interested in. I’ve got additional pictures and GoPro video footage as well. Here is a short GoPro clip in 720p:

Like most wrecks, the site is in a depression in the sand (or “divet”) with most of the wreckage inside that divet. I would estimate the depression to be about 100′ across. EVERYWHERE inside that depression were groups of scorpionfish. Below are some color-corrected photos to give you a better idea of what I’m describing:

Scorpionfish will sometimes live in sandy areas but generally are found in a rocky habitat so that alone is pretty interesting. When you layer on the sheer number of fish we saw that all appeared to be on a long siesta, it made for a very interesting site.

If you know of anybody who can shed some light, please send them the pics or a link to the website and my contact info. I’d love to get more data on what we saw.

11 thoughts on “Unique Scorpionfish “Nesting Den” Habitat in Corsair wreckage site (UPDATE)

  1. Nice footage. This is common behavior, according to ichthyologist Dr. Milton Love. Please check out page 216, first paragraph, under “Life History” in his book “Certainly More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast”.
    Kevin Lee
    http://www.diverkevin.com

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    1. Thanks, Kevin! I will have to look that up.

      I had another “friend of a friend” ask if there was a sulphur spring in that area and then went dark. It would definitely help explain why most of the metal airplane parts were yellow.

      Do you know if there is something specific about sulphur that attracts the scorpionfish?

      Also, do you know if it is seasonal?

      I’m hoping to get back to that site sometime in Mar/Apr 2021.

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  2. On page 216 of Milton Loves’s book Certainly More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast he mentions the spawning grounds of the California Scorpionfish. They appear in huge numbers in many places including Dana Point.

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    1. Wow, it is crazy that both you and Kevin Lee referred to the same book within minutes of each other!

      I’ll ask the same questions I asked him in case you don’t see them:

      “I had another “friend of a friend” ask if there was a sulphur spring in that area and then went dark. It would definitely help explain why most of the metal airplane parts were yellow.

      Do you know if there is something specific about sulphur that attracts the scorpionfish?

      Also, do you know if it is seasonal?

      I’m hoping to get back to that site sometime in Mar/Apr 2021.”

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    1. Thanks! I saw that you also saw the video on Vimeo.

      As you can tell, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately on the UB-88. Let me know if there is anything specific you are looking for as I probably have pictures or video of it. 🙂

      – brett

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  3. I was just looking for any recent dives as far as conditions go. I haven’t dived the UB88 in a couple of years. I had about ten feet vis when I first found it but my video lights died after only six minutes.

    The next time I went, visibility was less than six inches. It was pitch black. I reached out and touched the hull but couldn’t see my hands.
    The last time I was there, I shot wide angle stills which weren’t very good.
    http://diver.net/bbs/posts003/87135.shtml
    I’m always envious when I see videos from the sub with great vis.

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    1. The vis this year has been pretty good at depth – except last week. Interesting enough, the vis on the surface was pretty good but from about 140 feet and below it was like a complete “silt out.” It was like somebody shook the proverbial “ocean snow globe” and all the silt & sand was suspended in the water column. We literally couldn’t find the sub which his hard to miss.

      I’ve been doing quite a bit of diving to build my photogrammetry model but I’ve also had Drew Wilson along on the dives. We’ve been working on natural light wide angle photos where my lights essentially act as an “off board” light for his photos and I’ll “pose” on the wreck with my 2 x 15k lights. The photos come out really well because he has no on-board lights and hence no backscatter. You can see a bunch of his UB-88 photos here:

      https://www.drewwilsonphotography.com/

      As you can see, we have had some really good visibility at depth this year. 🙂

      Like

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