Part 12 of my documentary, “Mucky Secrets”, about the marine life of the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia.
In this video I look at fishes in the order Tetraodontiformes. First of all we encounter a very young boxfish, possibly a longhorn cowfish, Lactoria cornuta. Along with toxic skin, the boxfish’s main defence is a very hard carapace of bony plates. The juvenile’s coloration helps it remain unnoticed while the body hardens.
Next is a juvenile thornback cowfish, Lactoria fornasini, sheltering in Halimeda algae. Juvenile boxfishes and pufferfishes often tuck their tail to one side when it is not needed for swimming.
Next we meet a juvenile starry puffer, Arothron stellatus, and its dramatically different adult counterpart.
Although puffers are slow movers, the tail can give them a great turn of speed when threatened. As a further defence, puffers can inflate their bodies with water, vastly increasing their size and revealing short, sharp spines on their skin.
They are believed to be the second most poisonous vertebrate on earth, after the golden poison frog. However some predators can tolerate the toxin, and some parts of them are carefully prepared as a delicacy in Japan, Korea and China.
The juvenile guineafowl puffer, Arothron meleagris, has a black and yellow coloration that advertises its toxicity to potential predators. This is a common combination of warning colors in the animal kingdom.
More elongate puffers are found in the Lembeh Strait too. We encounter a narrow-lined puffer, Arothron manilensis, at Hairball and a shortfin puffer, Torquigener brevipinnis, at TK.
Sharpnose puffers, also known as tobies, have elongated snouts and slimmer bodies. We meet at a Valentini puffer, Canthigaster valentini, a Bennett’s sharpnose puffer, Canthigaster bennetti, and a compressed toby, Canthigaster compressa.
The birdbeak burrfish, Cyclichthys orbicularis, is a type of porcupinefish. It is covered in spines which are permanently erect, and it can inflate its body like puffers. It’s eyes contain iridescent green specks.
Conversely, the spines of the long-spine porcupinefish, Diodon holocanthus, lie flat against its body when not it is not inflated.
Finally we encounter a long-spine porcupinefish sharing its home with a small birdbeak burrfish.