Parrotfish III

good night sir
the stars will shine!
all the dimensions

Planning a camping trip to the Great Barrier Reef for a weekend away with your fellow parrotfish? Don’t forget to pack your sleeping bag!

Actually, your parrotfish comrades don’t pack sleeping bags because they make their own sleeping bags. It’s not exactly your standard, Columbia Reactor™ 25 Mummy II Sleeping Bag. It looks more like a futuristic space pod George Lucas invented in the 1970s. It is in fact a bubble of mucus that encases the parrotfish and jiggles like jello to the rhythm of the ocean currents.

Parrotfish hunker down to the seafloor at night. They find a nook among the corals and darkness. Then parrotfish begin secreting mucus from their mouths. The mucus cocoon takes shape at the fish’s head and extends backward.

Why, why, why?

Hypothesis 1: prevent scratching against coral
While sleeping in their slimy cocoons parrotfish are neutrally buoyant – they are neither sinking nor floating.

Hypothesis 2: avoid predation by moray eels
A study in the 1950s proposed this hypothesis, but today’s scientists aren’t completely sold on the idea.

Hypothesis 3: protection from silt
No one likes sand particles falling on them while they sleep.

Hypothesis 4: minimize bacterial growth and parasite loads
Parrotfish mucus contains antibodies and individuals without cocoons end up with more parasites.

My Hypothesis: cocoons are cozy
Maybe parrotfish simply want to feel the warm embrace of their own mucus; to each their own.