Stareye parrotfish

A stareye parrotfish resting on sand in Hawaii

I saw this rather splendid stareye parrotfish sitting motionless on a patch of sand with its dorsal fin raised. It’s the first time I’d seen a parrotfish do this and I don’t know the reason. At night they will find a crack in the reef to sleep, but during the day they typically cruise around and are very skittish around people.

This photo shows the ‘beak’ of the parrotfish, which is made up of individual teeth that are fused together and are incredibly strong. It uses this ‘beak’ to scrape algae off rocks and also to dig into the coral. After grinding this up and extracting the organic matter, the residue is expelled. This parrotfish poop forms most of Hawaii’s fabulous white sand beaches!

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