The spectacular Titan Triggerfish is not just an ugly face. He is also the first fish we have ever filmed using a tool to eat. In fact, according to Google there are very few tool wielding fish, and even fewer videos of them eating.
I filmed one on a dive to a new and dramatic dive site discovered by Roger, Bryan and Menon of Ocean Spirit in Mauritius. They called it Black Forest, because it has a lot of Green Tree corals, which are actually completely black. The guys were all measuring depths, checking distances and doing the things divers do when they are exploring a new reef.
I lay on my belly on the rubble and watched a Titan Trigger. I thought he was nesting, so I stayed low. If you swim over a Titan Trigger when he’s brooding on his eggs, he will come after you and a friend has 18 stitches in his head to prove they mean business. Stay low and they can’t see you, their eyes are too close to the top of their heads.
He burrowed with his scaly snout into the coral rubble and soft sand, twisting his whole body, coming out and then diving back and burrowing in again. My buddy got bored and swam away, but I wanted to see what he was doing.
After three tries, he came out triumphantly holding a huge clam between his teeth. OK, now what does he expect to do with that? It was way too big to crush between his fangs. I thought he would drop it and swim away. But he didn’t…
He moved closer to the rock in front of me and he blew the clam out of his mouth onto the rock. It didn’t break, so he did it again, and again, until it cracked. His faithful hangers on dived in as well, but he got the first bite, and I left him to enjoy it. Blue Planet filmed the Tusk Fish using similar behavior, but I think this is the first time a Titan Trigger has been filmed using a tool.
The Titan Triggerfish: Passionate protector of his eggs and evolved user of tools…
Words, Images & Video: Jill Holloway
Copyright: Ocean Spirit www.osdiving.com