Friday, 26 May 2017

Atlantic trumpetfish

Photo credit: Florid Museum of Natural History
The Atlantic trumpetfish, Order Syngthiformes, Family Aulotomidae, Genus Aulostomus, Species Maculatus. They can be found in reef habitats all the way from the Bahamas to South Florida and have also been seen in Bermuda as well as throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
    This fish is a reclusive reef predator that uses almost motionless techniques, moving only with the currents, to trick it's prey into swimming too close or will sometimes follow larger grazing fish, such as a Parrotfish, waiting for smaller fish to become startled and emerge from their hiding spots in the coral to find themselves face to face with the trumpet fish.
Photo credit: Lamar University
   The trumpetfish’s interesting morphology provides a very unique way of consuming its prey. It's long, skinny body is almost compressed into a tube-like shape and its long mouth is often deceiving, making people believe that it's mouth is much longer than it is, but actually the trumpet fish’s mouth is only located at the very tip of the head and when a fish gets close enough, it opens its mouth, lined with elastic tissues that allow it to create a vacuum, sucking the startled fish into its stomach. Because of this unique hunting technique they don't have teeth in the top of their mouths, instead they just have a set of tiny teeth on the bottom of their jaw. They also have specialized color cells that allow them to change colors frequently and rapidly to blend into the corals, algae, seagrass, or any other substrate they might be over, this is mostly to hide from the prey that they are waiting for. They don't usually become prey themselves, however larger yellowfin grouper and schoolmasters have been known to eat them, so it also provides a bit of protective camouflage as well.
    Closely related to the seahorse their courtship is quite similar. The female will give the eggs to the male, who will then hatch and care for the young. Their courtship, however, is very unique and intricate. The courtship dance involves the contorting of their long bodies and also a series of color changes.
    The Atlantic trumpetfish is a very interesting reef fish and if you are every snorkeling or diving around the tropics keep your eyes peeled, their camouflage makes them hard to see.

Photo credit: Social Encyclopedia

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