It’s easy to see why the longspined porcupinefish (Diodon holocanthus) is April’s Staff Pick of the Month. Amanda Weltman, the Aquarium interpreter who nominated this fish, says, “The porcupine fish is fairly new to the Vancouver Aquarium so visitors might not know that it’s here, but once you notice it, it’s hard not to pay it any attention.”
Amanda is particularly fond of the longspined porcupinefish’s eyes. “In the light they are an iridescent blue, and they are absolutely beautiful. I want to learn more about how it sees and if there is a reason why its eyes are so mesmerizing,” she says.
Longspined porcupinefish have a wide range; they live in the shallow tropical reefs of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Amanda is curious to see a longspined porcupinefish “puffed up,” but she knows it’s a good thing she’s never seen this behaviour. This fish only takes in air or water and inflates its body when it’s in a stressful situation, like getting attacked by a predator. When it balloons, the spikes that normally lay flat along its body stand up.
These fish are relatively poor simmers; their small fins are mainly used for making their way through corals at slow speed. Amanda says the “funny way it awkwardly swims,” makes her chuckle. Hey, when you’re this cute, you can be forgiven for being a little awkward.
See it in the Tropic Zone in a new exhibit showcasing the coral reef fishes of the Florida Keys.
Written by Karen Glanzberg, content writer/editor at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.