Porcupinefish, Diodon hystrix, in the Puffer family
Unlike many other blotchy porcupinefish species, this one is coated in tiny, evenly spaced spots. ike all porcupinefishes, the spotted porcupinefish possesses powerful jaws and beak-like teeth. All of the teeth in the upper jaw are fused into a single plate, and all of the teeth in the lower jaw are merged into a single plate. They are foraging predators that do not consume other fish. Their specialized jaws and teeth, on the other hand, are ideal for feeding on hard-shelled or spiny invertebrates such as urchins, snails, and crabs. They spend a significant amount of time foraging for their chosen prey. Because the spotted porcupinefish is a weak swimmer, it is readily captured. When disturbed, however, the spotted porcupinefish has the amazing ability to swallow water and erect its spines until it resembles a huge, spiky balloon. This serves as a protective mechanism, keeping predators from swallowing them. These may also be poisoned by the spotted porcupinefish.
Photograph by Elbert Greer
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