Humphead ParrotfishPOTW December 11, 2017
This week’s POTW is a close-up shot of an often shy fish commonly known as the humphead parrotfish (aka green humphead parrotfish, bumphead parrotfish, double-headed parrotfish, and buffalo parrotfish). Ichthyologists know the species as Bolbometopon muricatum. The genus name certainly seems apropos as it is derived from the Greek words bolbou meaning onion and metopon meaning brow. The photograph was captured while I was diving off of the Micronesian island of Yap at one of the areas more highly publicized sites, Yap Caverns.
Attaining a maximum length of roughly 4.25 feet and weighing as much as 101 pounds, the humphead parrotfish is the large species of parrotfish.
An Indo-Pacific species, the humphead parrotfish is often confused with the bumphead wrasse (aka humphead wrasse), Cheilinus undulates. The confusion probably occurs because both species are so large. But with a little knowledge it is easy to distinguish between the two by noting the shape of their heads. The head of the humphead parrotfish is distinctly vertical, while the head of the humphead wrasse is distinctly sloped.
Adult humphead parrotfish are usually seen inside of clear outer lagoons and in association with seaward reefs down to a depth of approximately 100 feet. Juvenile prefer lagoons to the reefs of the open sea.
Humphead parrotfish are usually seen swimming in small groups, but they occasionally gather in aggregations of up to 75 fish. Humphead parrotfish tend to swarm over areas when they feed. Their favorite prey are algae, live corals and shellfishes. Their large front teeth, powerful jaws, and large, bony head assist in feeding. Humphead parrotfish sometimes ram their heads into corals to help dislodge and smash the corals into edible bits. Adults consume in excess of five tons of limestone and other reef carbonates a year.
Prior to capturing this image, I had tried to get a close up of the face of a humphead parrotfish on a number of occasions. But I was never able to get as close to other individuals as I was to this feeding fish. I think the fact that the animal was so pre-occupied with its effort to feed is the factor that allowed me to get close enough to create this photograph. Once again, time in the ocean and persistence paid off!
I hope you enjoy this week’s POTW!
See you next week,