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209. Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) on the wreck of the USAT Liberty


A school of Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) visits the shallow zone between the Tulamben shore and the wreck of the USAT Liberty, the world-famous wreck in Bali, Indonesia.

As an almost daily routine, these parrotfish leave their nightly resting place, during and just after sunrise. Once the sun has risen enough to illuminate the entire wreck, the school of Bumphead Parrotfish has disappeared until the next night to use the structure as a resting and sleeping place.

Bumphead Parrotfish are the world's biggest members of the parrotfish family (Scaridae) and the largest herbivorous fish that resides on tropical coral reefs. The Bumphead Parrotfish prefers to live in small to medium-sized aggregations and is thus most likely encountered in a group. Schools can consist of up to 80 individuals or so.

The Bumphead Parrotfish roams the reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from the Red Sea over the archipelagos of Indonesia and the Philippines to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and all the way to Polynesia.

They are sometimes referred to as the cows of the ocean as they graze on benthic algae and coral polyps. By grinding the corals and their polyps, these big parrotfish transform a lot of hard corals into the lush and beautiful white sand that is so reminiscent of tropical beaches. Parrotfish are extremely important for the reef ecosystem.

Because of their huge size, these fish are often targeted by spear fishermen. Unfortunately, these magnificent and impressive animals are in decline all over the Indo-Pacific area. No-take zones, marine protective areas, and fishing bans could help in preserving these animals for generations to come.


Thanks to its proximity to the shore, the near current-less area, and the clear warm tropical waters, the USAT Liberty is one of Asia’s most dived wrecks. This wreck, like so many other sunken structures, is a magnet for wildlife and scuba divers alike. The wreck is at its most beautiful when there are no other divers around, and it's teeming with wildlife. These moments are extremely rare but they do exist. Once the dive centers and schools start entering the water, most spectacular animals are gone. These rare occasions when you are alone with the coral-covered remains of the old but rusty lady are the ideal moments for underwater photographers and videographers alike to explore the wreck and capture its beauty and spectacular wildlife on film. The trick is to enter the water 30 minutes before sunrise in a touristically low season. Forget torches and submersible lights; they will only spoil the intense beauty of the site. There is nothing that will try to eat you alive on this dive.

Bumphead Parrotfish are also best approached in a very calm manner. Show them that you're not a threat and keep a pleasant distance, close enough to enjoy them fully, though far enough not to invade their space. Do not chase them, as they would definitely outswim you. Just hang around, let them do their thing, and enjoy the moment. A moment you will probably never forget.

Filming location:

This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in Bali, Indonesia 🇮🇩

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