The Raja Ampat Creature Feature: Green Bumphead parrotfish
Raja Ampat is rightly known as the most biodiverse marine ecosystem globally. The abundance of healthy coral reefs and marine species is a divers dream. For this series, we will be highlighting a few of our favourite marine creatures that you can see during your visit to the region.
While swimming through a shallow reef or slope, you will suddenly see a large shadow above or in the distance. While many will immediately think of an approaching shark when the shape becomes clear, you realise that this is no shark but rather the Green Bumphead Parrotfish.
As the largest Parrotfish species, they can grow up to a length of 1.5m and weigh up to 75kg with distinctive dark green scales that cover most of the body. Interestingly these large fish only use their pectoral fins for swimming.
But the most distinctive characteristic of the species is the large bumps found on the fish's forehead. One could mistake the bump for a crash helmet when observing this fish. And this is precisely what the bump is used for.
These impressive fish are known to travel in large schools feeding on algae found on hard coral structures ramming into and using its large, almost cartoonish sets of teeth to bite into the coral. The parrotfish family all have two sets of teeth. The first and prominent set breaks chunks of coral while the second inner set mulls the coral along with the algae for digestion. These teeth are known to be harder than gold.
This process produces fine sand that the fish defecates and forms part of beaches and sandbanks over time.A male leads each school of parrotfish, and when the leader dies, he will be replaced by another. It is even possible for parrotfish to change their sex if and when needed.
While the Green Bumphead Parrotfish is a large fish, it is still at risk of predators, and like smaller parrotfish in the family, they can produce a slime-like substance, mostly at night, that masks their scent from potential predators. Often, you can see these slime pockets in crevasses and holes where these fish are hiding on night dives.
Raja Ampat is home to many species of parrotfish, but none come close to the impressive frame of the Green Bumphead Parrotfish.
About Meridian Adventure Dive
Situated in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, Meridian Adventure Dive is a PADI 5 Star Resort and winner of the PADI Green Star award. Scuba divers enjoy our professional services that have become synonymous with both the PADI and Meridian Adventure names.