Monday, 30 May 2016

Its a bird! Its a plane! No, its a Lactophrys triqueter!

Good evening ladies and gents!
Today I present to you to the wonderful, the glorious, the outstanding Lactophrys triqueter!

Adult Smooth Trunkfish 

Juvenile Smooth Trunkfish
 I know you must be thinking to yourself, "WHAT IS THIS MAGNIFICENT CREATURE?! I MUST KNOW MORE!" That's amazing because I was thinking the exact same thing when I saw it too and I would love to tell you what I have learned. This species is apart of the 'boxfish' group. What sets this particular group apart from other fancy fishes is that they are encased in a triangular shaped carapace that results in a very distinctive characteristic. They might give off the appearance of stout little tough guys, and that's because they are! Thick scales are tightly compacted to form a hard outer layer for protection against predators, as well as a toxic secretion that oozes out when they become riled up. They are generally slower, sticking closer to their home of choice which are usually coral reefs, and on occasion, grassy or sandy habitats. This individual species is known as the Smooth Trunkfish and is the only known individual in it's family that do not have spines. What attracts the eye about this little guy is not only the shape of it's body, but the unique patterns that it acquires as well. If you refer to the phenomenal photograph located just upward, you can see the bright white spots against the dark overall color, as well as the faded yellow, honeycomb pattern that flows throughout the body. This pattern is original to the Smooth Trunkfish and makes it very easy to identify!
Photo Credit: Dr. Joshua Voss 
It's main food source is composed of small invertebrates that reside on the walls and bottom of reefs, and it obtains these delicious morsels by using a jet-like propulsion of water through their abnormally large lips, which results in the invertebrate detaching from the surface they are infused to.
Their native home is the western Atlantic Ocean and since it's discovery has dispersed through the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and even as far as Southern Brazil. Lactophrys triqueter are generally a solitary species and have not been recorded to undergo any annual migration.
For our week spent at the Keys Marine Lab, we saw many Trunkfish in mangrove creeks, patch reefs and barrier reefs. There was also one located in the touch tank at the lab that we were able to observe in our free time and it was an intriguing experience!

Photo Credit: Calli Sautter
Photo Credit: Calli Sautter
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Lactophrys triqueter just as much as I did and have a wonderful rest of the week!

Ta Ta For Now!
- Calli

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