[Coral-List] Extraordinary aggressive behavior in bumphead parrotfish

John McManus jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Mon Jun 11 11:47:49 EDT 2012

Thanks for posting this. In the late 70's and early 80's I spent hundreds of
hours snorkeling among these giants in the Philippines Indonesia, and Papua
New Guinea. They seemed to treat me like one of them. They would bob down to
feed while I dove down occasionally to investigate unusual marine life.
They would often rotate tail-up and crash down on corals -- especially
Acropora palifera, whose growth seemed to be inhibited and shapes modified
due to the constant attention. They always dove with open mouths, crunching
very noisily as they bit off large chunks of coral. I never once saw them
use the forehead to smash coral. However, the bumps did often seem to show
signs of collision.

By the 90's the big ones were very hard to find. They are too easy to spear.

I am glad someone has now documented that the males butt heads. Fortunately,
they did not mistake my mask for a head bump.




-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Todd Kellison
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 10:46 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Extraordinary aggressive behavior in bumphead

All –

The research described below, led by Dr. Roldan C. Muñoz of NOAA’s National
Marine Fisheries Service in Beaufort, NC, may be of interest:

NOAA scientists have published the first ever documentation of aggressive
headbutting in a marine fish, the giant bumphead parrotfish (*Bolbometopon
muricatum*). While studying these large, charismatic, and imperiled fish in
2011 at Wake Atoll with partners from Scripps Institution of Oceanography
and Mariculture Hawaii, LLC; researchers were surprised by loud jarring
sounds which were later identified and documented as ritualized headbutting
contests by large bumphead parrotfish males. The behavior and its
significance are documented in a new article published June 6th in PLoS ONE,
available at

Supplementary video clips can also be accessed from the link above.

Also see

Best regards,


Todd Kellison
Chief, Fisheries Ecosystems Branch
NOAA Fisheries - Beaufort Laboratory
101 Pivers Island Road
Beaufort, NC 28516252.838.0810 (phone)252.728.8784
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