Volume 4    Number 15

Shadow Stalking:
Behavior of a Trumpetfish

Trumpetfish Shadow Stalks near a Caribbean Spiny Lobster

"Shadow Stalking" is the name given to the behavior of a fish when that fish follows another animal around the reef as an easy way to find food. This picture shows a Trumpetfish (the long, skinny fish on the left) hanging out near a Caribbean Spiny Lobster. The Trumpetfish is a stealthy fish, lurking and hiding near the reef to wait for its food to come to it. In this case, the Trumpetfish is lurking near a Spiny Lobster in the hope that the Lobster will lead it to food. As the Lobster crawls across the sand, it will feel in the sand using its antennae and claws to try to find food. Sometimes small animals will jump out of their hiding places in the sand as the Lobster moves over them. If the Trumpetfish sees them first, it can swoop in with a quick lunge to seize its prey. It may even steal food that the Lobster would've eaten, if the Trumpetfish sees it first and is fast enough.

We watched this Trumpetfish hanging out near the Caribbean Spiny Lobster for several minutes as we swam above Little Cavern Reef near Bimini. The depth of the bottom between the coralheads was between 60 and 70 feet.

This picture first appeared on the ReefNews CD-ROM "Bimini: Jewel of the Gulf Stream." You also can read more about the island of Bimini and its reefs on the ReefNews website, at http://www.reefnews.com/reefnews/oceangeo/bimini/bimini.html.

Click here for a beautiful picture of a Trumpetfish from the ReefNews website.

Click here for a beautiful picture of a Caribbean Spiny Lobster from the ReefNews website.

The name Shadow Stalking is given to this behavior by Roberta and James Wilson in their book, "Pisces Guide to Watching Fishes" (Houston: Pisces Books, 1985, 1992). This book is an excellent guide to fish behavior. Ask your library to add it to their collection.

Another common form of Shadow Stalking is seen when Bar Jacks follow Southern Stingrays.



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