If there’s one iconic species to encounter underwater while diving in Amed or Tulamben, it’s the Bumphead Parrotfish. This biggest representative of the parrotfish genus has found a heaven in the Northeastern part of Bali, where it is protected from fishing thanks to an agreement between fishermen and local dive centres of Amed and Tulamben.
A star of the USAT Liberty wreck
If there’s one dive site of the Amed area where you’re most likely to meet this underwater giant, it is the USAT Liberty shipwreck. Indeed, the Bumphead Parrotfish usually sleeps inside caves in schools. Therefore, a shipwreck makes the perfect hotel with a lot of confined hiding places where to get some well-deserved shuteye. Also, due to its diet, composed of algae and coral polyps, living around the biggest artificial reef in the area is a great advantage for this big eater. A 120 meters long buffet!
The Bumphead Parrotfish is also often spotted on the Tulamben Drop-off, as it enjoys living in lagoons at a shallow depth.
The beach maker
The Bumphead Parrotfish is one of the greatest builders there is, without even thinking about it. When eating coral all day long, up to 5 tons a year per fish, its digestion process turns the coral skeleton into thin coral sand naturally expelled when the nutrients have been absorbed by the organism. These sand expulsions play an important role in stabilisation and strengthening of the reef and can participate in supplying sand for the beaches. Impressive, isn’t?
A killer look
The Bumphead Parrotfish takes its name, surprisingly, from the big bump on its head. The bump is used by males during mating rituals, when they fight for females. This bump is also sometimes used by the Bumphead Parrotfish to hit the coral before eating it. And to do that, it has a second formidable weapon, its beak. All species of parrotfish are named as such because of their beak, but the Bumphead Parrotfish has got to have the biggest and strongest one. As the Bumphead Parrotfish grows, its lips peel back up to a point where its beak is permanently exposed.
Bumphead Parrotfish can grow up to 130cm, but most specimens grow up to 70cm. It can weight up to 45kg. The juvenile individuals are green and their colour changes to blue-greyish when growing up. The area around the beak and bump is often pinkish.
Strength in numbers
The Bumphead Parrotfish has a herd-like mentality. It can often be observed in groups of 30 to 50 individuals. Groups of more than 75 have also been spotted. However, it has a shy nature and will not get too close to divers. If you swim slowly among them in open water, they might let you get a bit closer and will generally just ignore you.