The Red Sea Walkman (Inimicus Filamentosus) is also known as the Filamented devilfish, Two-stick Stingfish, Sea Goblin and Demon Stinger.
They are in the same family, Synanceiidae as the Stonefish and have similar poisons in their spines. Their camouflage, while different to that of the Stonefish because of the different environment they are found in, is equally as good.
Walking in the shallows barefoot is the most common way of coming into contact with the Red Sea Walker and on rarer occasions people brush against them while swimming or pick them up. When one applies pressure on the dorsal spines this depresses the spine and poison is pumped up the spine. The effect of the poison is by all accounts excruciating and can be fatal.
The Red Sea Walkman is a strange looking fish , in some ways resembling the Weedy Scorpionfish or the Paddleflap Scorpionfish both in the Genus Rhinopias, except that the body is more squat. They grow up to 25 centimeters in length and can weigh up to half a kilogram. They have a proportionally large head which is flattened with a short tail and similar shaped bulging eyes to the members of the Rhinopas genus. The mouth is proportionally large and the pectoral fins are well developed each having two rays.
These are usually kept folded in close to the body but can be fanned out to present a colorful orange white and black display. Their dorsal fin has two large spines which can be raised, with poison glands at the base and the remainder have seaweed shaped filaments on them. The skin is warty and has appendages on it and has micro organisms and algae growing on it. Each specimen looks slightly different because of this.The body colour ranges from a yellow green to grey or red brown with blotches on it.
Their skin continuously sloughs off which prevents too much growth from forming on their skin but still retains some for camouflage. They are extremely well camouflaged and best way to pick them out is to look for their eyes.
RED SEA WALKMAN IN THE WILD
The Red Sea Walkman is an ambush predator that spends most if not all of its life sitting on the substrate. When a diver approaches them usually they sit completely immobile, if they start to feel threatened they will raise their dorsal fins and if that does not work they will unfurl their colorful pectoral fins. If that does not do the trick they will usually try and crawl off using their pectoral fins.
They are usually found in sandy lagoons and protected shallows in Tanzania. They sometimes dig themselves into the sand which further aids their camouflage. They seem comparatively rare in Tanzania, but that said their camouflage is excellent and very few people recreationally dive the sandy areas they are found in. This partly because the visibility in these areas is not good in most of these areas because of the high tidal differential.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE SPIKED BY ONE
Their poison is powerful and can be fatal in some cases. The best thing to do is obtain medical attention as fast as possible. In Australia and some other countries Anti-venom is available but in Africa it is not usually available. The treatment for a sting is immersion of the wound in hot water as hot as one can take it, which is about 45 Celsius for about 90 minutes. The poison causes swelling, nausea and by all accounts a huge amount of pain. If you are some distance from a hospital then any spines should be removed and the affected area should be immersed in water around 45 Celsius for 90 minutes. The water must be kept around this temperature for the duration of the soaking. The temperature breaks up the protein chains in the poison.
Red Sea Walkman are confined to the Western Indian Ocean. They are found on the East African coast from Northern Mozambique northwards to the Red Sea. They are also found in Madagascar, Seychelles Reunion, Mauritius and the Maldives. One specimen was recently recovered from a trawl in India and their range may be wider. These fish are extremely well camouflaged and are even more difficult to spot if they are amongst weeds.
Red Sea Walkman are ambush predators that prey on small fishes and crustaceans and pretty much anything that fits in their mouth. They use their proportionally large mouths to create a vacuum and suck in and swallow the prey. Prey is swallowed whole.
Red Sea Walkman are oviparous with females producing eggs that when fertilized are released and float near the surface. Little else is known about their reproduction.
They are caught by some indigenous communities and the flesh is edible provided the poison glands are cut out. As with any similar predator there is a risk of ciguatera poisoning. In Japan other members of the genus are sold as a delicacy.
Red Sea Walkman are kept by some collectors in specialised aquariums, but they are not at all common in the trade. They will eat anything that fits into their rather large mouths so great care would have to be taken in this regard. It is unlikely that they will switch across to prepared foods and because of this may be very difficult to keep.