This month we are featuring the Scrawled Filefish - Aluterus Scriptus. This fish is one of the most colourful seen in Montserrat waters, displaying spectacular colour changes. It is the biggest of the filefish family and is less common here than the Whitespotted Filefish or Orangespotted Filefish. It is therefore something of a treat to encounter one.
The Scrawled Filefish often drifts head down, which may make it look like a piece of floating debris and thus confuse predators; or its posture may make it appear to be a potential shelter to its own prey. The primary dorsal spine can be made to stand erect. Such a posture is used by filefishes to prevent them being swallowed: or to lock themselves into a crevice to prevent them being pulled out by a predator.
The fish is omniverous and will eat anything from moon jellies to the skeletons of fire coral. It is the only fish known to make the pungent gorgonians a staple part of its diet.
There seems to be some dispute over where filefishes get their names from. Some suggest it comes from the first dorsal spine of the scrawled filefish which exhibits small notches along its length, resembling a file in appearance. A more colourful story is that sailors used to wrap the rough skin of filefishes around wood and use this as a file or sander.
Pictures were taken at Woodlands Beach reef, Montserrat.
LATEST DIVING CONDITIONS
The conditions are absolutely ideal with little rain and normally low seas. Visibility is 60-80ft and water temperature around 80F. Come and experience it for yourself!