The battle of the humphead parrotfish

The battle of the humphead parrotfish

The battle of the humphead parrotfish: The night is a risky time to be out and about and, like the no-go areas of a sprawling city ufabet, many parts of the reef are best avoided; yet nighttime is when many of its inhabitants choose to reproduce, and sometimes they do so in the most exposed of places.

The battle of the humphead parrotfish

The battle of the humphead parrotfish

Triggered as often as not by the phases of the moon, daytime residents emerge from their nocturnal hiding places and put themselves at considerable risk in order to give their offspring the best start in life.

Since competition is so intense and legions of predators come in all shapes and sizes on the reef itself, ironically the best place for the next generation to develop and grow is in the relative safety of the open ufabet ocean.

There are predators out there too, but they are far less concentrated. An added bonus is that sometimes ocean currents carry a larva to pastures new, so reef animals that take part in spawning events will do their best to ensure their fertilised eggs and larvae are carried away from the crowded reef.

Just before dawn, around the time of the full moon, at Sipadan, an oceanic island off the east coast of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, groups of mature humphead parrotfish abandon their regular night-time hiding places in ufabet caves and shipwrecks and begin to gather at the edge of the reef, where steep coral cliffs drop off into deep water.

This is one of the most dangerous parts of the reef at night, the haunt of local grey reef sharks, yet the humpheads seem oblivious to the dangers for it is one of the best sites to scatter their spawn into the sea.

Male humpheads wear their good looks on their heads, and fight for the right to be top fish. The huge, bony bump on their forehead is the weapon of choice. It is used not only to break coral when feeding, but also to head-bang with the other males.

Humpheads fight first and spawn later. They are living battering rams, and to establish who is the strongest and fittest they go in for head-butting contests like those of bighorn sheep, when males fight for the right to mate with the females.

The humphead’s bump even has a vertical bony ridge similar to the sheep’s horns, and the male packs quite a punch. The blows can be so powerful the ‘thwack’ can be heard clearly underwater from some distance away. It is the only fish known to conduct this kind of aggressive head-butting behaviour using a specially adapted part of its body.