Bullhead Scorpionfish, Scorpaena bulacephala Motomura, Last & Yearsley 2005

Other Names: Bullhead Scorpionfish

Scorpaena bulacephala, from the Tasman Sea. Source: NORFANZ Founding Parties. License: All rights reserved

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Scorpaena bulacephala in Fishes of Australia, accessed 30 Nov 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/3658

Bullhead Scorpionfish, Scorpaena bulacephala Motomura, Last & Yearsley 2005

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Lord Howe Rise and Norfolk Ridge in the Australian EEZ. Elsewhere the species occurs in the south-west Pacific: New Caledonia and Vanuatu.


Dorsal fin XII, 9: Anal fin III, 5; Pectoral fin 17; Pelvic fin I, 5; Caudal fin 15-17 (segmented rays), 10-11 (branched rays)This species is distinguished by the following set of characters: 9 dorsal-fin soft rays; fourth fin spine longest; 17 pectoral-fin rays; 39-44 longitudinal scales rows; 23 pored lateral-line scales; lateral surface of trunk covered with ctenoid scales; anteroventral surface of body and pectoral-fin base covered with exposed cycloid scales; lateral surface of maxilla with no longitudinal ridge; no spines on lateral surface of lacrimal; posterior margin of anterior lacrimal spine with 1–3 small spines; simple posterior lacrimal spine directed ventroposteriorly; no median interorbital ridge and no coronal spine; with occipital pit and supplement preopercular spine; relatively short fin spines and rays, longest pectoral-fin ray (31.5-33.5% of SL); the space between the upper and lower opercular spines is not covered by skin with sensory pores and canals; length of supraocular tentacle is less than or approximately equal to pupil diameter; no tentacles on lateral surface of trunk, except on pored lateral-line scale


Fresh caught: Body strongly variegated, mainly brilliant red, suffused with irregular purplish, yellowish brown and white blotches. Female holotype with translucent unpaired fins, covered with reddish patches and spots; edge of first dorsal-fin membrane slightly darker reddish brown, remaining fin with irregular reddish blotches, no enlarged dark spots. Second dorsal fin pale edged with two broad, poorly defined reddish stripes. Caudal fin reddish basally, alternating irregular pale and reddish areas distally over fin rays, membranes translucent. Anal fin similar to dorsal fins, reddish areas most pronounced anteriorly. Pectoral fin similar to side of body. Pelvic fin weakly variegated. Pupil black, iris reddish with yellowish inner margin. Paratype (CSIRO H6028-003, probable male) similar to holotype, with irregular purplish patches along sides and back. Head, and pectoral and pelvic fins more uniformly reddish than holotype. Large, weak purplish oval spot between dorsal-fin spines 7 and 10 (Motomura et al. 2005)


The specific name bulacephala is from the latin bula (= bull) and cephalus (= head) in reference to its bull-shaped head.

Species Citation

Scorpaena bulacephala Motomura, Last & Yearsley 2005, Zootaxa 1043: ,19, figs 1-5. Type locality: South of Norfolk Island, 28°54'-55'S, 167°40'-41'E, Norfolk Ridge, Tasman Sea, depth 111-113 m. 


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Bullhead Scorpionfish, Scorpaena bulacephala Motomura, Last & Yearsley 2005


Fricke, R., Kulbicki, M. & Wantiez, L. 2011. Checklist of the fishes of New Caledonia, and their distribution in the Southwest Pacific Ocean (Pisces). Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde. Serie A (Biologie) Neue Serie 4: 341-463 

Motomura, H., Béarez, P. & Causse, R. 2011. Review of Indo-Pacific specimens of the subfamily Scorpaeninae (Scorpaenidae), deposited in the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris, with description of a new species of Neomerinthe. Cybium 33(1): 55-73 

Motomura, H., Last, P.R. & Yearsley, G.K. 2005. Scorpaena bulacephala, a new species of scorpionfish (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae) from the northern Tasman Sea. Zootaxa 1043: 17-32

Motomura, H. & Matsuura, K. 2016. Scorpaena bulacephala . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T69917280A70009712. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T69917280A70009712.en. Downloaded on 12 March 2020.

Wibowo, K., Johnson, J.W. & Motomura, H. 2019. Scorpaena regina, a new scorpionfish (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae) from the east coast of Queensland, Australia. Zootaxa 4706(2): 296-310. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4706.2.5

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287125

Depth:76-150 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:9 cm SL

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