Here in Koh Tao we have a plethora of different aquatic species of all different shapes and sizes. Everyone wants to see Whale sharks and Bull-sharks, and who can blame them, they are both majestic creatures; however, there are some of the smaller species which I think are still exciting to find and awesome in their colour and movement. Here are three of my favourite:
Clown Trigger Fish (Balistoides conspicillum – if you’re interested in its Latin name) – A couple of months ago while diving on the wreck I spotted my first clown trigger and wow, it stopped me in my tracks. Compared to the more common titan and yellow margin triggerfish this is much smaller in size, growing up to only around 50cm. Its main background colour is black, but its underside is covered in large white spots and the area around its dorsal fin is an almost leopard-like pattern. The small mouth has a ring of yellow around it and just blow its eyes there is a band of white which gives the trigger the appearance of wearing a black mask.
Juvenile Harlequin Sweetlips – I often see these around Hin Wong Bay and they amaze me with their movement. They are quite small in size, around 2-3inches, and swim with their head pointed down and with a very exaggerated fin movement, mimicking the movement of nudibranch or flatworm which helps to keep predators away. As they get older their colour changes from brown with white with large white dots and white-and-black fins, to white with brown spots on the body and fins. They are great fun to watch and can be quite mesmerizing.
Yellow Box Fish – There is a little yellow box fish at Hin Pee Wee who hides in the tall pinnacle to the east of the main pinnacle. They are funny to watch, almost the cartoon character of the fish world with their cubelike body. As an adult it reaches a maximum length of 45 centimetres, but when juvenile, it is only around 3-4 inches in length and bright yellow in color with navy spots all over it. As it ages, the brightness fades and very old specimens will have blue-grey coloration with faded yellow. As a little bit of useless information, in 2006, Mercedes unveiled its ‘Bionic concept car’, which was actually inspired by the shape of the yellow boxfish.