Have you ever found yourself toes buried in the warm summer sand wondering where the heck does this sand even come from? No big trucks don't deliver the sand to our flawless Florida beaches in the middle of the night, a majority of the sand is actually delivered by one of Floridas most popular reef fish: The Parrot Fish.
You see, the bright colorful Parrot Fish feeds mostly on the invasive algae that smothers our precious corals. By chomping off the top algae infested layer of the coral, the parrot fish completely eliminates any chance for that algae to regrow. Which makes the Parrot fish a very important factor to our reefs health, like the reefs own personal gardener.
The corals ingested by Parrot Fish contain calcium carbonate. When the calcium carbonate is introduced to the acidy stomach it produces carbon dioxide causing the solution to bubble like a mentos in a diet coke. So why aren't the Parrot Fish having volcanic diarrhea all over the reef? Due to the Parrot fish's lack of a stomach, the fish simply grinds up their food with their teeth located in the back of the throat, otherwise known as a pharyngeal jaw. The digestive system then absorbs the yummy nutrients provided by the algae and expels the remaining ground up calcium carbonate as sand. Fun fact: Each Parrot Fish poo's out an average of 800 POUNDS OF SAND EACH YEAR!!!!!! Some species of Parrots in Australia have been known to poop an entire ton (2000 pounds) of sand in one year, that's equivalent to the weight of a Volkswagen Beetle!
So next time you are frolicking in sandy Parrot fish poo on the beautiful beaches of Florida, take a moment to give thanks to this bizarre creature and it's odd pooping routine. Without them, our beaches would be much smaller.
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