Scientists believe that the healthiest coral reefs in the world are the ones with active and happy parrotfish. Protecting parrotfish, and their equally important sea urchin neighbors, can help restore dying coral reefs and keep healthy ones growing.
There are nearly a hundred species of parrotfish in the world, each growing anywhere from 1 to 4 feet in length. Known for their impressive teeth, parrotfish grind and pulverize the algae polyps off the coral. National Geographic estimates that a single parrotfish poops up to two-hundred pounds of sand a year. So not only do these amazing herbivores eat the algae off our critically important Caribbean coral, they also keep our beaches soft and sandy!
Parrotfish are super cool in other ways, too – not only can they change their gender multiple times throughout their lives, some species actually create their own sleeping bag to slumber peacefully away from predators. These parrotfish literally launch a mucous membrane from atop their head that surrounds them in a protective bubble for the night. These fish are fascinating! You can help save St. John’s coral reefs: don’t wear sunscreen in the sea, don’t touch or stand on live coral, and don’t kill or eat parrotfish. Next time you’re snorkeling and hear that crackle in the water, know it’s the amazing parrotfish hard at work.