Tropical western Atlantic Ocean from Florida (and Bermuda) to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico
Coral and rocky reefs and nearby seagrass beds; often hide among soft corals
Sit and wait predator
Order Syngnathiformes (pipefishes and relatives), Family Aulostomidae (trumpetfishes)
The Atlantic trumpetfish is a shy reef fish that lives on the coral reefs and seagrass beds of the Caribbean Sea and surrounding waters. It is long, skinny, and somewhat compressed from side to side (rather than cylindrical-shaped, like some eels) and is known to reach lengths of over three feet (one meter). The Atlantic trumpetfish (like all trumpetfishes) is closely related to pipefishes and seahorses, and has a similarly shaped head that it uses for suction feeding. While it may look like it has a large mouth, its mouth is actually fairly small and only opens slightly at the tip of its long snout.
The Atlantic trumpetfish uses its large snout and triangle-shaped head to create a large amount of suction that is concentrated at the mouth (much like a straw), allowing it to easily suck in its prey of small fishes and mobile invertebrates (like shrimps). In order to succeed at this feeding strategy, the Atlantic trumpetfish utilizes a number of interesting behaviors to sneak up on and approach its prey:
The conservation status of the Atlantic trumpetfish is currently unknown. Scientists know them to be rare; no more than a few adults are normally seen during a long SCUBA dive. Throughout their range, Atlantic trumpetfish are not typically eaten, and they are not captured widely for use in the private aquarium industry (though this practice is growing). Quite likely, the Atlantic Trumpetfish is a naturally rare species.
Oceana joined forces with Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization dedicated to educating and engaging the world’s boating community. Sailors for the Sea developed the KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) program to create the next generation of ocean stewards. Click here or below to download hands-on marine science activities for kids.