The Meridian Adventure Dive Raja Ampat Creature Feature Series: Crocodile Fish
The crocodile fish, also known as a flathead, is a bottom-dwelling fish that belongs to the same family as the scorpion and stonefish. The fish gets its name from their distinct look, which is remarkably similar to a crocodile. A long elongated jaw identical in shape to a duck beak with eyes situated on the top of their head, allowing them to have a wide field of view. Their unique color and skin textures blends perfectly with their surroundings making them great predators.
Juveniles are darker in colour and over time they develop either green, grey, or brown hues with black markings all over their elongated bodies. Even their large eyes are camouflaged when closed, and small tentacle growths around the eyes make their eyes less pronounced when open. Their unique shape and texture allows them to flatten themselves to their surroundings, and their dorsal fins are coloured and textured to their environment to look like coral or reef structures. Their flat pectoral fin is spotted and textured in the same way.
These fish feed primarily on crustaceans and smaller fish that they ambush. The crocodile fish will lay and wait until the prey comes into striking distance, this is when the fish will snap from their hiding and swallow their prey in one bite. The crocodile fish is itself prey to small shark species, most notably reef sharks, who will swoop in and eat them while on the reef. Other larger predatory fish species are also known to feed on crocodile fish when the opportunity arises. While primarily relying on their camouflage to protect them, the dorsal fins are used as a defense mechanism. The sharp and bony composition of the fins can injure predators who try to feed on them.
In Raja Ampat, these fish can often be spotted on shallow reefs between 6 and 15 meters, either using the rocky reef formations or patches of soft coral as hiding spots. It is very rare to see these while moving as they are so confident in their camouflage that they will evade divers even if they come very close. However, divers have been known to be focused on coral or other fish on the reef when they suddenly spot these fish in hiding right in front of them.
About Meridian Adventure Dive
Situated in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, Meridian Adventure Dive is a PADI 5 Star Resort and winner of the PADI Green Star award. Scuba divers enjoy our professional services that have become synonymous with both the PADI and Meridian Adventure names.