The Queen Triggerfish is a large tropical fish that inhabits the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a common fish that is a delight for scuba divers. Its gorgeous coloring and large size make it a wonderful photo subject, if one is able to approach close enough to take a picture. They are solitary and territorial fish, and often reluctant to allow humans to venture close.
One of the remarkable things about this fish is how it hunts. It has powerful jaws and strong teeth, which it can use to crush clams and shells or the body of crabs that it finds along the ocean floor. It has learned to blow jets of water under sea urchins to flip them over and gain access to the soft under body where spines do not protect them.
It has also learned that conch shells are a source of food, with conch or hermit crabs taking shelter inside.
This Queen Triggerfish can be seen actually flipping the conch shell by picking it up and dropping it again on the sand. It carefully grabs the shell in its teeth and rolls it upright so it can peer inside. The acre and coordination that it displays in carrying out this task is surprising.
For good measure, the fish sticks its snout into the shell to make sure nothing edible is inside. It then swims off, apparently done with the shell. But knowing that a small crab will wait before emerging from shelter to right its shell, the Queen triggerfish circles around after a few moments to check one more time. This persistence will pay off if there is a crab deep in the shell who is waiting for what it thinks is the end of the danger.
We don't often think of fish as being such complex thinkers but perhaps may animals are brighter than we realize.