The Bumphead Parrotfish occurs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, with a wide range including several U.S. territories and coastal areas of several continents: Australia, Africa, and Asia. This extensive range, however, has not protected the species from dramatic decline. It has vanished or dramatically decreased in many areas, including portions of the Great Barrier Reef and remote Pacific islands. The leading threats to this irreplaceable species are fishing and climate change, but it faces a slew of other dangers as well, including destruction of coral reefs and marine pollution.
The Bumphead Parrotfish needs healthy coral reefs for habitat and to meet its weighty dietary requirement: each individual Bumphead consumes more than five tons of coral per year, including living coral. It excretes the beautiful white coral sands that draw millions of tourists to vacation in the Pacific every year. Its grazing habits provide an important and unique ecological function: by being a major coral predator and the primary erosion agent where it occurs, this parrotfish fundamentally shapes coral reefs. This fish’s trimming of coral reefs enables them to withstand fierce storms and sea urchin invasions and provides beaches for sea turtle nesting. Scientists believe it may be a keystone species for which there is no substitute.