Juvenile Hong Kong Pufferfishes can be curious. Hello there!
I have picked Takifugu alboplumbeus to feature in this first ‘marine life’ post, because although it is a common species which is not only restricted to Hong Kong, it somehow has come to be commonly known as the Hong Kong Pufferfish. And also, well, would you just look at that little face.
The characteristic of pufferfishes is their ability to inflate their body, increasing their size dramatically. The fish triggers this defence mechanism by drawing water into a chamber near the stomach. Pufferfishes have beak-like teeth and small spines covering much of the body, though you wouldn’t think it from looking at these guys. Also, pufferfishes can be highly toxic if eaten; the notorious Japanese delicacy of ‘fugu’ which requires specialist preparation is in fact a pufferfish. Pufferfishes are omnivorous, feeding on worms, crustaceans, molluscs and algae amongst other things.
Those divers can’t spot me with my clever disguise!
The Hong Kong Pufferfish has a light brown body with small white spots and a pale belly and grows to 23cm long. They occur singly or in small groups. They inhabit shallow coral areas, rocky reefs, and sand and rubble areas and therefore can be seen at most of the commonly visited dive sites in Hong Kong, for example Tsim Chau 尖洲, Tung Ping Chau 東平洲, Lobster Bay 龍蝦灣 and Shelter Island 牛尾洲. As slow-moving fishes, they are easy to observe if approached carefully. I have noticed that juvenile Hong Kong pufferfishes (they look like mini versions of the adults) can be curious of divers and come very close if you stay still. Hong Kong pufferfishes are also often seen to bury themselves in the sand, with only the upper body and eyes showing.
See if you can spot one on your next dive!
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