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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sea Things #30: Smooth Trunkfish

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

For the last few weeks, we've been looking at some new (to me) creatures from the Pacific, specifically Hawaii. Today, we return to the Caribbean to learn about one of my favorite little fishies (I feel like I say that every week, I guess all fishies are my favorite). Lactophrys triqueter is the common name of the Smooth Trunkfish. They're found all over the Caribbean, but we saw them most frequently in Bonaire and Belize. They are part of a larger family of fish, Boxfish, which are (as you might expect) fish shaped like boxes.

Trunkfish eat little mollusks and crustaceans, tunicates, etc. They blast a jet of water out of their cute little mouths in order to dig things up. It's quite adorable.

More adorable, though, is the juvenile (above). While adults get to be as big as 18 inches, you can often find a juvenile Trunkfish as small as a half inch or so long. They are so cute!! They will swim around in small holes or under ledges, waiting to grow bigger.

I don't know of a diver hand signal for an adult Trunkfish, but I have seen some folks make a hand signal like shaking and throwing dice to signify a juvenile. Indeed, they do look like little dice. They aren't generally afraid of divers, and you can get reasonably close to them.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it. Photos on this post are courtesy of Todd Krebs.

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