Searching for the Fish That Built the Beach

Bumphead parrotfish, the hidden treasure of our expedition here in the Solomon Islands, are one of the most memorable sights to be seen on shallow reefs—if you are lucky enough to find them, that is.

Picture this: what starts as a single dark blue silhouette slowly drifts towards you, transforming into a herd of giant, beaked, and multicolored fish loudly crunching on their favorite food, coral. Their powerful and prominent teeth grind up the hard exterior so they can eat the tiny animals living within. Many visitors to the region might be shocked to know that the white sand beaches they’ve stretched out on are made of the fine, sandy excrement produced by bumphead and their coral-heavy diet!

Not so long ago, bumpheads grazed in herds a hundred strong, reminiscent of when buffalo roamed the American plains. Over the last few decades rising fishing pressure across the South- and Indo-Pacific have taken a great toll on their numbers, driving their populations unbelievably low and earning their inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Their disappearance may have unknown and potentially grave consequences for reef ecosystems. Take, for instance, their feeding behavior which clears patches of coral, allowing space and light for —> Read More Here


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