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The Bizarre Looking Trumpetfish (Aulostomus Maculatus)

The bizarre looking trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus) gets its name from having a snout shaped similar to the mouthpiece of a trumpet. They can often be found swaying amongst the sea whips flowing back and forth with the swell. This strange behavior can be seen on our Sea Trek trail or through the windows of the Undersea Observatory Tower on any given day. Camouflaging itself in this way not only offers protection from its main predators, eels and groupers, but also provides a means of ambush when hunting. The mouth of a trumpetfish can open wider than its whole body and create a vacuum effect on unsuspecting small fish and shrimp.

These masters of their surroundings can also change their colors to blend with schools of other fish or to play wingman with larger fish. Their chromatophore color changing abilities are also used to conduct elaborate mating display rituals. Like its close relative the seahorse, the trumpetfish males carry and fertilize the eggs. Their counterparts in the Pacific (Aulostomus chinensis) are known to be one of the few predators of juvenile lionfish. In time our native trumpetfish may identify juvenile lionfish as a food source and help to reduce the number of the invasive species.

~Watch the video clip of some trumpet fish hiding along the Sea Trek handrail while feeding on silversides. Coral World Observation Tower

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