, Volume 30, Issue 3, p 803
Date: 24 Jun 2011

Coral obligate filefish masquerades as branching coral

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Masquerade occurs when an organism uses its coloration or shape to resemble an inedible object, causing it to be misidentified by potential predators, rather than simply remaining undetected (crypsis) (Skelhorn et al. 2010). The harlequin filefish, Oxymonacanthus longirostris (Bloch & Schneider, 1801), is a highly specialised species, which almost exclusively uses Acropora corals for food and as habitat (Kokita and Nakazono 2001). This species’ behaviour during crepuscular and nocturnal periods, along with body form and colour pattern, suggests it masquerades as the branching Acropora species with which it associates. Prior to sunset, a fish will select a position amongst branching Acropora, locking itself onto the coral using its first dorsal spine. Anal, dorsal and caudal fins are depressed streamlining the fish into a branchlike point (Fig. 1a, b). This position is then maintained until after dawn. The site selected on the coral is often amongst the upper branches and relatively exp