Starry Pufferfish (Arothron stellatus)
The Starry pufferfish belongs to the family Tetraodontidae, which includes all species of toadfish and pufferfish. These fish are unique in that they are able to inflate themselves with water to approximately twice their normal size, which serves as a defence. By making themselves look larger, they are able to deter some predators. Starry pufferfish are found throughout tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific. In Australia, they are found along the north coast from central Western Australia to central New South Wales, often associated with coastal reefs and inshore estuaries.
Growing up to 1.2m in length, Starry pufferfish are one of the largest species of pufferfish. Adults are white in colour and their body is covered with small black spots, which become smaller and more numerous as they mature. Juveniles on the other hand are orange with small black spots on their body as well as diagonal black bands on their abdomen.
The Starry pufferfish has a beak like jaw, which is very powerful and able to crack open shells and other hard objects. This suits their diet as they eat things such as sponges, corals, crustaceans, molluscs, tube worms and sea urchins. Like all species of pufferfish and toadfish, they contain powerful toxins (tetrodotoxin) in their skin and organs, and should never be eaten. These photos were both taken at the Graveyard dive site out the front of Tangalooma.