A Trumpetfish Stalks its Prey on the Living Reef
This long slender fish is a Trumpetfish. Trumpetfish are familiar lurk-and-lunge hunters of the tropical coral reef. We have seen these animals on many reefs in the Caribbean, from Bimini to Bonaire. We saw this Trumpetfish at a reef called Ampitheater near Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos.
Trumpetfish are lurk-and-lunge hunters. They hunt by hoping a small fish won't notice and will swim close enough that the Trumpetfish can catch it with a quick lunge. Trumpetfish can change colors, and often pretend to be branches of coral. In this photograph, the Trumpetfish has a blue nose with a brown body. You can see another photo showing the more common all-brown color phase of this fish elsewhere on the ReefNews website. We have even seen Trumpetfish in a yellow color phase, and pictures of that fish were featured in Volume 1 of the e-ReefNews newsletter.
An amazing fact about this picture is that almost everything you can see is an animal. The tiny yellow fish with purple heads are called Fairy Basslets. Maybe this Trumpetfish is trying to catch them. The brown branches that look like a plant are actually a coral called a Deep-Water Sea Fan, made by a colony of thousands of tiny coral animals called polyps. The red rod behind the Trumpetfish is a type of sponge, also a colony of thousands of animals. And the wall is covered with animals: encrusting sponges, colorful corals, branching hydroids and bryozoans, snails, clams, worms, tunicates, and on and on. The tropical coral reef is home to over 3 million species of living things, over half of the biodiversity of planet Earth.