Portrait of a juvenile boxfish, 1 cm long, collected by a bluewater diver in the top 30 meters of the Celebes Sea water column, from the Exploring the Inner Space of the Celebes Sea 2007 exploration. This exploration discovered what may be new marine species in the world’s most biologically diverse region, the dark deep Celebes Sea in the southern Philippines.
Image courtesy of Exploring the Inner Space of the Celebes Sea 2007 Exploration, NOAA-OE.
Location: Tropical reefs in Indian and south Pacific waters
Fun facts: Instead of a covering of scales, all boxfish are protected by a rigid box of fused bony plates under the skin. This means they cannot bend their body and must swim by beating their pectoral fins. A large tail gives some propulsion and is also used to help steer them like a rudder. They also secrete a poisonous slime from their skin that protects them from predators.
You have just realized that the juvenile spotted trunkfish (Lactophrys bicaudalis) is the most adorable fish on the planet. This little guy is about the size of a pea. They can be founds in reefs throughout the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
A temperate species endemic to the southern and western reaches of the Australian mainland rocky reefs, the Whitebarred Boxfish is an underappreciated beauty. It is encased in a rigid, bone-like carapace covered in ridges which act like stabalisers as it swims which offers an unusual visual appeal.
It is a species that displays sexual dichromatism. The male of the species (shown here) is a vivid orange with solid white banding, whilst the female and juvenile of the species are a less intense colouration (tending to brown) with black and white blotching.
“Found on coral reefs. Solitary or in small groups. Feeds on a wide variety of small bottom invertebrates such as mollusks, crustaceans, worms, sessile tunicates and sponges exposed by a jet of water ejected through the mouth. Marketed fresh locally. Toxins released when excited kill other fishes. Easily approached…”
The Spotted Trunkfish is a member of the family Ostraciidae. It can be found in reefs throughout the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean as well as the south eastern Atlantic Ocean. The species gets its name from the black spots it has covered over its yellow/golden body.
The spotted trunkfish, like all trunkfish of the Genus Lactophrys, secretes a colorless ciguatera toxin from glands on its skin when touched. The toxin is only dangerous when ingested, so there’s no immediate harm to divers. Predators however, as large as nurse sharks, can die as a result of eating a trunkfish.