Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fishes in the Sea Part 3: A Game of Hide and Go Eat

In previous posts (Fishes in the Sea Parts 1 and 2), I highlighted daytime invertebrate hunting and herbivorous strategies in reef fish. Let's consider more predatory (e.g., piscivorous) strategies. Being a predator can be tough work. Fish that you want to eat don't want to be eaten. Plus, sometimes damselfish beat you up just like they do to everything else (see *, **, or ***). One strategy is to be really fast and chase down prey (e.g., Bar Jacks) and another is to be cryptic and strike before you are seen.
A fish that takes on the "hide and go eat" strategy, is a trumpetfish. They're often seen floating upside-down or aligning with something straight (e.g., the trumpetfish on the left in soft coral or on the right with a pier pillar).
In a previous post on eels dying in Bonaire (Dead Eels), my video showed a Graysby closely following a sharptailed eel, perhaps using the eel to somehow increase its own foraging success. Below is a narrated (that wasn't fun) video of similar, and common, behavior, a trumpetfish following a parrotfish.

Sometimes trumpetfish will hide behind other fish, like these tang.


I've even had one use me as cover.

Grouper use a combination of burst swimming and camouflage in their hunting strategy. Like many fish, they can change their color, blending in better with their background. They don't have the skills of an octopus, but when sitting still they can be hard to see.

I've posted pictures and videos of other cryptic fish in the past, including barracuda, bat fish and scorpionfish, but I haven't posted a 3-D picture in a long time, so here's a 2D scorpionfish looking cryptic and a 3D scorpionfish blending in with the newly exposed rubble in the shallows after Omar.

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