The Rivulated Toby, also known as the Brown-lined puffer or Maze Puffer, is a solitary pufferfish species (Tetraodontidae) found in the Indo-Pacific waters. It prefers the cooler and subtropical areas of these waters, while in warm tropical waters, it is mainly found in deeper zones where the temperature is lower than on the sunlit shallow coral reefs.
Like all pufferfish species, the Rivulated Toby is highly poisonous. While most pufferfish toxins are concentrated in the liver and intestines, the Rivulated Toby stores most of its lethal tetrodotoxin in the mucus of its skin. Direct contact with the fish's skin can lead to intoxication, which is also true for other fish species that come into direct physical contact with this puffer.
Since ancient times, people have been aware of the danger of eating fish without scales, such as pufferfish. For example, in the Mosaic sanitary law (Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Torah, 14:9-10 ca. 1451 B.C.), it states; “9. Of all the creatures living in the water, you may eat any that has fins and scales. 10.But anything that does not have fins and scales you may not eat; for you it is unclean." In the time of the Pharaohs, the ancient Egyptians were also aware of the poisonous nature of pufferfish. Illustrations of pufferfish labeled as poisonous have been discovered by archaeologists in Egyptian tombs from the 5th dynasty (ca. 2500 B.C.).
The males of this species exhibit sexual dimorphism as they are larger than females and change colour during the mating season. When it's time to reproduce, the males display vibrant violet vermiculated or reticulated patterns on their ventral side, while the ventral part of the females remain white.
The Rivulated Toby is omnivorous and feeds on various types of algae, echinoderms (starfish and urchins species), and mollusks.
The beautiful individual in this underwater videoclip is a juvenile Rivulated Toby, measuring no more than 5cm/2 inch. It was spotted in a large sandy area where it swam close to a small bush of hydroids.
Juveniles of most fish species move in an erratic manner, and this beautiful little one is no different. Young individuals are naturally much more playful than their adult counterpart. Filming an underwater animal that moves frantically and behaves unpredictably is challenging.
Out of over 4 minutes of footage of this Rivulated Toby, only about 20 seconds were suitable for turning into an underwater videoclip. When filming such a critter, it is best not to zoom in at all. Zooming or enlarging (in this clip the footage was enlarged to 115%) can be done during the editing process, using keyframes to position the subject near or in the middle of the screen. You can only enlarge footage that has been recorded in a higher resolution (for example 4K) than the final product (HD1080) otherwise there is a risk of loosing quality. To smooth out all movements, the built-in stabiliser was used.
Additionally, the yellow in the puffer's face was enhanced, more contrast was added to the footage, and a quirky music style was chosen to depict the playfulness of the little juvenile fish.
For other pufferfish insights please go to these vlog posts:
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