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The day is almost over and I have barely accomplished anything, but there is still time for a startling visual post about triggerfish! Here are all three known species of the aggressive genus Pseudoballistes.

Pseudoballistes flavimarginatus
Pseudoballistes flavimarginatus

The first is Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus (AKA the yellow margin trigger or pineapple trigger) which lives throughout tropical reefs of the IndoPacific.

Pseudobalistes fuscus
Pseudobalistes fuscus

The second, a real stunner, is Pseudobalistes fuscus (AKA the “blue triggerfish” or “rippled triggerfish“) lives in the same range. It is even more aggressive than the pineapple triggerfish and many divers just swim away from blue triggerfish on sight so as to avoid painful bites. But look at that gorgeous pattern of blue labyrinths on their body!

Pseudoballistes naufragium
Pseudoballistes naufragium

The third is Pseudoballistes naufragium (“the stone triggerfish”) which lives in the Eastern Pacific from Baja down to Chile. This is the largest triggerfish in the ocean growing to a size of up to 1 meter 1 meter (3.5 ft) in length.

Usually my ocean posts end in portentous warnings and sadness, but all of these triggerfish are clever aggressive generalists who are doing well (and will savagely attack you if you mess with them). They sound practically human! (but maybe don’t tell them I said that)

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Behold! This is Triodon macropterus, the majestic Threetooth puffer.  It is the only living species within in the genus Triodon and the family Triodontidae.  The Threetooth puffer grown to slightly longer than half a meter (about 20 inches) and it lives in deep pelagic waters of the Indo-Pacific from Madagascar to French Polynesia.

Triodon

The three-tooth puffer is a strange fish with a body deeper than it is long, thanks to an enormous inflatable belly flap. This flap has a giant false eye spot on each side, and, when it is inflated with seawater, the fish’s pelvis descends at an angle, giving the impression of a giant terrifying sea monster head emerging from the deeps.

Although the fish is now taxonomically isolated in its own family(!) it has a robust paleontological history and fossils of extinct genera have been found dating back the Eocene when they must have flourished in the vast warm seas which covered so much of the world in that iceless epoch.   Although they are so rare today, that it is hard to speak of their habits and biology, perhaps the three-spot puffer has a bright outlook in the warm acidic oceans which seem to lie in the world’s future. It could be that the genetic bottleneck will expand as pockets of Triodons speciate to live in yet unknown ecosystems.  Or more-likely humankind’s abuse of the oceans will destroy this last branch of a once-robust taxonomical tree.

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