New coastal hunting behavior for Titan triggerfish recorded

In case you needed another reason to dread the Titan trigger, apparently you can almost hit the beach for a snack. Keep an eye on your toes the next time you go for a walk on the beach, as a titanium trigger may be lurking nearby.

A new study published in the journal Fish Biology the case of a titanium triggerfish that plunged into the shallow coast in search of crabs.

Titan triggers are vicious predators with lightning-fast attacks. These fish can grow up to 75 centimeters long and are known for their aggression towards divers, who are often pinched by their powerful teeth when the triggerfish fiercely defend their nests.

Titan triggerfish sometimes hunt land-based prey Matthew Tietbohl

Recently, Matthew Tietbohl, a coral reef ecologist at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, visited Mar Mar Island on the Red Sea to examine a beach for sea turtle tracks where the triggerfish’s unusual hunting strategy was discovered.

“We turned around and saw how this triggerfish flung itself into the shallows and stranded itself,” said Tietbohl. Stranding is risky behavior for most fish that cannot breathe on land. So what could motivate such a bold strategy? The triggerfish chased ghost crabs, which are common near the water when they graze on algae clinging to the rocks.


Tietbohl reports that the fish would lie in wait like a stalking crocodile before leaping out of the water to grab a crab and pull it back into the sea. It asks interesting questions about the fish’s vision to calculate exactly where a target is under a surface of water that refracts light differently than air. [IFLS]

Illustration shows the progress of the Titan triggerfish’s unusual hunting strategy. Tietbohl et al. 2020, Wiley


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