The Spotted Drum (Equetus punctatus), has earned the coveted spot of symbol of the St. Eustatius Marine Park. This fish may be very small, measuring just 18 cm (~7.1″), but it knows how to stand out against a colorful reef: it has an unusual black and white pattern, with the head and body covered in black and white stripes and the black tail and second dorsal fin covered in white spots. It is also easily identified by its very long first dorsal fin. Did you know that this dorsal fin becomes shorter with age? Juveniles have extremely long fins with very small bodies and are a true delight to see fluttering around.
Night divers will have the best chance of spotting this quirky–looking fish. Spotted Drums spend their days hiding under crevices, ledges or near the entrance of small caves, swimming around in small, repetitive circles. They come out in the open only at night to feed on small invertebrates such as crabs, shrimps and worms. Spotted Drums, like other members of their family, are named after the low pitched, drumming sound that they make while beating their abdominal muscles against their swim bladder.
If you are up to the challenge of finding our species of the week, your chances are the highest in St. Eustatius where the Spotted Drum is unusually common. While doing so, please remember to keep a safe distance between yourself and the reef. Our Marine Parks work hard to protect natural wonders such as the Spotted Drum fish and need your help in continuing to do so.