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Meet the Trumpetfish

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

The Pacific trumpetfish is one of the most startling fish you will encounter while snorkeling the reefs of Kauai. Reaching almost 3 feet in length, these fish can not only change their color based on their surroundings, but they can also hover vertically stalking their prey.

You will see the trumpetfish in both shallow and deep water (just over 100 m). They adopt a few hunting strategies to nab their prey - usually reef fish or shrimp. They might hang motionless in the water, in sync with the wave action, and then lunge forward, inflating their trumpet-like mouth and vacuuming up their meal. Or, they might sneak alongside a school of grazing surgeonfishes to get within striking distance. Another tactic is to hover vertically against the backdrop of branching coral. They can also change their coloration from greyish to yellow, or an orange-brown.

To see one you need to be patent and look around for them. All of a sudden, you will round a corner in the reef and see a huge one hanging motionless stalking its prey. There are a lot of "stick" fish swimming on the reefs. When snorkeling with Reef Guides, be on the lookout for coronetfish, similar to the trumpetfish, but more likely to be seen in schools, and also the needlefish, a long stick fish that has a long mouth and a lot of teeth. These are schooling fish that hang more at the surface of the water and can "fly" out of the water at a whopping 38 miles per hour!

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