All About Parrot Fish
Did you know that there are 99 known parrotfish species worldwide? You may also hear them called gutu (Papiamentu), papegaaivis (Dutch) or pez loro (Spanish). Parrotfish are named for their beak-like front teeth, which they use to scrape algae of the reef for food. Coral and algae compete for space and light on the reef. In recent decades the amount of reef algae has increased considerably, which harms corals by cutting off their access to light and oxygen, preventing coral recruitment, and competing with helpful bacteria.
Parrotfish are key to keeping out reefs healthy because they keep algae levels in check, helping to maintain a healthy coral population on our reef. Fishing is one of the main threats to parrotfish – both intentional harvest and unintentional bycatch (especially in gill nets and fish traps).
In 2010 the government enacted an island-wide ban on parrotfish harvest to safeguard these important herbivores and better manage our coral reefs.