When I see this picture I can’t help but wonder ‘little parrotfish, where are you from?’ The nearest coral reef is well over 1,000 miles away from here!!
Herbivores, especially parrotfish, are an essential component of coral reef ecosystems. Their constant grazing controls increases in algae and clears space for coral and crustose coralline algae growth. When I saw this picture sent to me by a former student from a market right here in San Diego I couldn’t help but wonder what the reef looked like and where it came from. Was it a healthy ecosystem that is resilient to fishing? Was it an already degraded system that needs every last mouth available to keep the algae in check? Who was the person who caught this fish and what are their fishing practices?
The questions that images like this generate define scientific curiosity. I for one am planning on finding some answers!!