Ghostly Scorpionfish, Scorpaena gasta Motomura, Last & Yearsley 2006

Ghostly scorpionfish, Scorpaena gasta. Source: Barry Hutchins / Western Australian Museum. License: All rights reserved

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Scorpaena gasta in Fishes of Australia, accessed 03 Dec 2023,

Ghostly Scorpionfish, Scorpaena gasta Motomura, Last & Yearsley 2006

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Endemic to Western Australia from Jurien Bay to north of Shark Bay in depths of 3–17 m.


Spinous portion of dorsal fin uniformly yellowish to reddish with a narrow, translucent, submarginal stripe. Soft-rayed portion of dorsal fin with a variable, diagonal cluster of black spots.

Similar Species

Scorpaena gasta is most similar to S. sumptuosa. also found in Western Australia. S. gasta and S. sumptuosa can be separated by several meristic and several morphometric features and colour pettern. 
S. gasta differs from S.sumptuosa in colour. The membrane of the spinous portion of the dorsal fin in S. gasta is reddish or yellowish with one or two narrow transparent stripes across the distal half of the membrane (vs. fin membrane variably reddish or whitish without distinct stripes in S. sumptuosa). S. gasta is also small species, reaching a length of at least 8 cm SL, whereas S. sumptuosa grows to the relatively large size of 24 cm SL; and has numerous distinct tentacles over the entire head and trunk (vs. a few distinct tentacles on the head and trunk in S. sumptuosa).
These two species differ from other Indo-Pacific species of Scorpaena in having the following combination of characters: lateral surface of maxilla with a distinct longitudinal ridge; relatively thick skin with numerous small sensory pores covering nearly the entire predorsal area to near the first pored lateral line scale; anteroventral surface of lower jaw with one or two pairs of slender tentacles in ventral view.


The specific name gasta is from the Anglo-Saxon gast meaning ‘spirit’ or ‘apparition’ in reference to the somewhat ghostly appearance of this species when preserved in alcohol.

Species Citation

Scorpaena gasta Motomura, Last & Yearsley 2006, Copeia 2006(3): 361, figs 1-3. Type locality: off mouth of Murchison River, Kalbarri, WA, 16-17m [27°30'S, 114°25'E]. 


Bray, D.J. 2019

Ghostly Scorpionfish, Scorpaena gasta Motomura, Last & Yearsley 2006


Motomura, H., Last, P.R. & Yearsley, G.K. 2006. New species of shallow water scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae: Scorpaena) from the central coast of Western Australia. Copeia 2006(3): 360-369. PDF Open access

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287131

Depth:3-17 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:8.5 cm SL


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