Saturday, July 23, 2005

BUMP HEAD PARROT FISH



The bump head parrot fish or buffalo fish is my favorite fish to watch, not to eat, mind you.

I first saw about 6 of them on a snorkeling trip at Coral Island, Tioman, and I was hooked.

That was before I became a diver.

The bump on the head gives it its name.

They usually move in herds.

This one was captured at Sipadan.

We had returned to the boat after a dive, and had removed our scuba gear when the guide saw the herd grazing in shallow waters.

Grazing as in buffaloes on land, hence its other name.

I immediately jumped into the sea with only my mask and camera, cursing myself for not bringing the snorkel.

Imagine my struggle to breath as I tried to keep up with the herd, snapping pictures all the way...

They have tough 'bugs bunny' teeth for biting off coral heads.

You can actually hear them grunting while biting off the corals.

They grind the corals to bits, absorb the nutrients, and pass out the coral bits as sand...

So, a substantial amount of sand we see on the beaches is actually the waste from these guys.

The bigger ones are about 1.5 meters...

Ah, the taste?

A dive guide once commented that the buffalo fish taste superb in asam soup.

And the most delicious part?

The thick lips, said he...