Key West Trumpetfish

Key West snorkeling lovers get a remarkable chance to see very interesting ocean life up close. One of the most unusual creatures that lurk along the coral reef of tropical waters is the trumpetfish.

The trumpetfish is so-named because of its distinctive shape that resembles a trumpet. Its shape and unique camouflaging ability makes the trumpetfish a powerful hunter.The slender, elongated trumpetfish has a tubular snout with a barbel on the chin. Its dorsal and anal fins are feathery and transparent. Its dorsal fin has from eight to ten short spines.

Those enjoying a Key West snorkel will see the trumpetfish using its fins to propel itself leisurely through the water either backwards or forwards most of the time. However, this fish travels with short bursts of speed to stalk its prey. When it's feeding time, the trumpetfish seems to magically disappear. The ability to vary its coloration allows it to hide in its surroundings. It can appear to be gray, bright yellow or an orange-brown. When the trumpetfish is in its orange-brown phase, pale white stripes appear on its body and white spots decorate its tail. A black spot at the base of its pelvic fins make it hard for prey to decide if this enemy is coming or going.

The trumpetfish assumes a vertical position among branching corals or plants, making it look like a floating twig. When dinner swims by, the trickster trumpetfish extends its snout and swallows its victim whole. Another hunting trick the trumpetfish likes to pull off is traveling in a school of sturgeonfishes. A prey fish approaching the school of these plant-eating fish can't see the skinny trumpet fish while it is among the middle of the school. When the school parts to swim around the prey fish, the trumpet fish opens its mouth and swallows its hapless victim.The trumpet fish is truly a lot of fun to watch while diving or snorkeling.