Do you like arguing? This is the fish that will cause argument on a dive boat over what to write it down as in your log book. Some people call them Demon Stingers or Devil Stingers or Devil Sting Fish, probably because they hurt like hell if you step on one, add to this that they of course they love to be hidden in shallow sandy area’s, making them the devil for beach swimmers.
Other people with more sense call them Indian Ocean Walkman, scientists call them ‘Inimicus didactylus’, I just call them interesting. If you are lucky enough you will find them walking, hence the name, these are not a swimming fish, they have spiny finger like appendages protruding from their pectoral region or fins, which they use just like big creepy ‘salad’ fingers for walking. They sort of just pull and drag themselves around looking for nice spots to hide and ambush wayward fishes or shrimp.
This one we found in the Philippines, black sandy muck dive, though I have seen them in Phuket and other places also on more yellow sandy area’s. So I’d say they are well distributed throughout South East Asia, you just have to swim slow enough and have the keen eyes to spot them, because when they are hiding, as in this photo, you can swim right over the top and not ever notice them. Or of course if your buoyancy is bad, step on, or misplace a hand on one. They might not be quite a poisonous as a Stone Fish, but they are very closely related in the family of poisoned bottom dwellers, which means their poison is probably quite viscous regardless.
Photographing them is easy, they don’t move much, plus if they do they move slow and carefully, giving you plenty of time to set up a shot. Sadly for me there was nothing around my subject except for black sand, their wasn’t much I could do to compose a shot in the barren wasteland he had chosen. No shrimps, no fish, no coral, just good old sand, thankfully at one point though he extended his sting or one of them anyway, that’s the black submarine thing on his back, it’s actually a web of skin between two of his dorsal spines, most likely a warning to keep away, which I ignored and took a photo instead. Enjoy!