Volume 5    Number 12

Pucker Factor:  Honeycomb Cowfish Caught by Surprise
at Painted Wall Reef near Long Cay in Belize

Honeycomb Cowfish and Giant Barrel Sponge

Honeycomb Cowfish are really strange-looking fish. We were swimming along the underwater cliff called Painted Wall Reef when I saw this fish off in the distance. I really wanted to take its picture, but it was so far away I had no hope of catching up to it. But then I saw this fish swim down inside a Giant Barrel Sponge! I knew that it would stay inside for a little while, giving me time to sneak up to the lip of the sponge and wait for it to emerge. Sure enough, I had time to set up my camera for a closeup portrait when the Honeycomb Cowfish swam up and out of the sponge and looked right at me! What good luck! It sure made a great picture.

Honeycomb Cowfish are pretty big. They can be up to about 18 inches long, which was about the size of the fish in this picture. Honeycomb Cowfish are covered with a pattern of black hexagons, giving them their “honeycomb” name. Honeycomb Cowfish have mouths shaped like tubes so they can shoot jets of water at the sand to scare their prey out of hiding. That is why it has such a puckered expression.

And notice the Giant Barrel Sponge this fish had explored. This sponge was huge! The sponge was nearly 4 feet wide, and over 5 feet tall. That sponge might have been over 200 years old.

ReefNews photographer Jonathan Dowell took this photo using a Canon A2 camera with a 28-105 mm zoom lens in an Ikelite housing with an Ikelite strobe.



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