The palette surgeonfish shoots through tropical Indo-Pacific waters like a bright blue flash. If its activity attracts the attention of a predator, it can respond by drawing its secret weapon.
A scalpel – or at least that is what it looks like. A bony defensive spine is attached to each side of the caudal fin where it joins the body. If agitated, theParacanthurus hepatus can flick this miniature ‘scalpel’ open like a penknife. These scalpels also lead to the word ‘surgeon’ in this marine inhabitant’s name.
With their blades and the poison glands hidden in the tips of their fins, palette surgeonfish are not only able to ward off hunters, but are also creatures that people need to be careful of. Despite these razor-sharp defence mechanisms, palette surgeonfish are still a favourite food for not only sharks but also moray eels, tuna and tiger groupers.