Spotted Boxfish

Ostracion meleagris

Boxfishes are entirely encased in rigid armour plate, and only their fins, eyes and mouths are moveable. They are also known as trunkfishes. They are usually shaped square, but can be found triangular, pentagonal, hexagonal or even round. Boxfishes propel themselves by their dorsal and anal fins, just like the closely related pufferfish. They also expel poison to deter predators by excreting toxin from their skin, but it is not known to affect humans. Boxfish feed on algae, sponges, tunicates, worms and other invertebrates on the sea bottom. Typically males and females are patterned differently, and the males are more colorful. In ancient Hawai'i they were known as "pahu," which means box. There are 5 species that occur regularly in Hawaiian waters.

Spotted Boxfish males are colorful with dark blue sides and black spots and markings. Their tops are black with white spots, and their heads and tails are enhanced with gold trim. The female boxfish are black and densely covered with white spots. Everywhere except Hawaiʻi males have gold marks on the sides, which makes them considered a subspecies, camurum. Males with scattered gold spots on their sides have been occasionally observed here. Boxfish like to frequent shallow and calm water, and they can be seen by people wading at the beach or by pedestrians walking by a sea wall. The species name means "guineafowl", and they grow up to 6 inches.