At the end of my second dive last Saturday, I chanced upon an adult longhorn cowfish (Lactoria cornuta) in about 5m of water at Dayang Beach. Knowing by experience that these are shy fish, I maintained a good distance and perched on the sand to watch and take pictures. Eventually I thought I’d get closer and see how near it would let me approach.
It was quite entertaining watching the cowfish plunge its face into the sand, and even more so when I realized it was blowing a small pit in the sand. It was feeding, and I was then within touching distance of the fish and it didn’t even move away. Well, it did start to leave (around the start of the video), but then circled back and went on blowing and plunging — what it was eating must’ve been yummy!
There are two species of cowfish that I commonly see in these parts: this one and the thornback cowfish (Lactoria fornasini). The latter is smaller and has a thorn sticking out of its back. Both of them have box-shaped bodies and they appear to “hover” low over the sand when they’re going about their business.