My unique shape may seem odd, but it’s quite handy. When I’m threatened by a predator, I can squeeze into a small crevice and stick up my front dorsal spine to wedge myself into place. I can also change my color to blend into my surroundings to make myself harder to spot. Take that, predators!
I’m a favorite of both commercial and recreational fisheries, too. In the Gulf of Mexico, we are being fished faster than we can reproduce to keep up.
Did You Know?
I’m a known “bait stealer,” and often aggravate anglers who are trying to target snapper and grouper by snatching their bait. What can I say? A fish has got to eat.
I have a small mouth but my jaws are super strong. I use incisor-like specialized teeth to drill holes in the shells of prey—which is a good thing because I love to eat. I move my dorsal and anal fins in an undulating motion to hover above the sand looking for prey.
I also am proud of the unusual way I take care of my young. I lay between 50,000 and 100,000 eggs in a hollow nest that I scoop out in the sand. Then my mate and I will guard our nest from predators until the eggs hatch two to three days later!