male Spotted boxfish [69k] added 6 nov 00

Another colorful and interesting boxfish, an adult about four inches in length. The female version of this species (below) is has a little less interesting overall scheme, with nearly its entire body decorated with the same colors and pattern as the brown dorsal surface of this fish.

Boxfish are much different than conventional scaled fish. Instead of overlapping scales they have hexagonal bony plates which are fused together to form a rigid body case. As with other fish, a mucus layer covers the entire body, making them feel slippery to the touch-- but the boxfish' s mucus layer contains a strong toxin.

Boxfish are skittish and shy. Though slow compared to most fish they are challenging to photograph. This one eluded my camera for several minutes as it stayed several feet ahead of me, only occasionally pausing as it found another hole in the reef it thought would be secure. Finally it sought shelter from me in a shallow space under a coral head-- as it turned toward me I squeezed off the shot.

Identification: Ostracion meleagris

spotted boxfish (female) [108K]
female spotted boxfish

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