Key West Porcupinefish
Any Key West snorkel adventure should include looking for the porcupine fish. It is about 8-12andrdquo; long and can be found in sheltered areas such as caves, shipwrecks and reefs. Keep your eyes open, because this little fish is shy and once spotted will slip into and under those sheltered areas. The porcupine fish is nocturnal, preferring to hunt at night for his favorite snack of shellfish. It has a long beak-like mouth that allows it to break open the hard shell without causing damage to itself.
The porcupine fish has a body color that runs from gray to tan with dark spots throughout. It has a white underside. This fish has a unique defensive system. There are spines that run along its body from front to back. These spines normally lie flat along the body, but when the fish feels threatened it is able to take in water and blow its body up like a balloon (balloon fish is another common name for the porcupine fish). This action causes the spines to stand up which makes predators think twice about making this fish their next meal. The increase in body size is also part of this fish's natural defense. The larger size decreases the number of predators able to swallow it.
This tropical fish is abundant in the warm, tropical waters off the coast of Florida so a Key West snorkeling trip just may give you the opportunity to spot this fascinating fish for yourself.