Do you love the feel of powdery white sand between your toes? Then thank the bumphead parrotfish for their hard work chomping through almost 5 tonnes of coral a year and turning it into some pretty amazing beaches in the Cairns & Great Barrier Reef region.
These funny-faced fish look just as their names suggests – they have a large bump on their head which is used to break the coral into smaller pieces to make it easier to digest. They are the largest of the parrotfish species growing to lengths of 1.3m and weighing up to 46kg.
They are best distinguished by their beak-like teeth plates which can be seen through their fleshy lips. Before the bump develops on their heads, the juvenile fish are greenish-brown with bands of white spots. Their colour changes to a variation of olive, blue-green and slate grey with a yellow-pink blaze on their face as they mature. Both sexes look the same.
There is a good chance you will hear a bumphead parrotfish before you see it as their constant chomping is a familiar underwater sound around Michaelmas Cay and Paradise Reef where Passions of Paradise travels daily.
Moving in schools, they spend the day scouring the reef for food, before looking for the safety of a cave or shipwrecks to spend the night in.
Also going by the names of humphead parrotfish, double-headed parrotfish, buffalo parrotfish and giant parrotfish, this species’ scientific name is Bolbometopon muricatum.
The bumphead parrotfish is a popular target for spear fishers in the Pacific which has led to their listing as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Article by Russell Hosp
Environmental & Sustainability Coordinator
Passions of Paradise