Did you know that there are over 90 different species of Parrotfish around the world? One of the most decorative is the Rainbow Parrotfish, prevalent on St. John and adored by snorkelers.
Found in relatively shallow tropical and subtropical oceans (like St. John), nearly all species of parrotfish are sequential hermaphrodites. In other words, they they start out as females (called “the initial phase”) and then change to males (called “the terminal phase”).
Parrotfish are largely responsible for the fine white sand found on the beaches throughout the Caribbean. While breaking off bits of coral and rocky substrates for algae, parrotfish grind up the coral rock with their teeth and excrete it as a fine sand Just one parrotfish can produce almost 200 pounds of sand each year!
While snorkeling, look for the white choppers of the parrotfish and listen for the tell tale crunching sound underwater.
Another interesting fact: At night, parrotfish belch out their own mucus to form a membrane that protects them while they sleep.The self netting process protects the sleeping fish from tiny hungry parasites. According to National Geographic, reef fish are attacked at night by tiny blood-sucking crustaceans called gnathiid isopods.
During the day, cleaner fish help to keep these pests at bay, but they only work the day shift. When darkness falls, the fish wrap themselves in a net of their own making. How cool is that?!
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One response to “The Amazing Parrotfish”
[…] St. John offers numerous quiet bays and cays that are perfect for peaceful snorkeling. Checkout our favorite secret snorkel spot. The more adventurous can venture along the coast from beach to beach, while beginners should stay closer to shore. Both destinations will reveal breathtaking underwater world! […]