A marbled stargazer perches briefly on the sand before it buries itself

Coral reef ambush predators

Understandably, the title implies we are going to focus on the fearsome, awesome Komodo dragon! As one of earth’s largest terrestrial ambush predator, but relatively restricted to Komodo National Park, it would be a sound conclusion, right? The rich waters around the park, however, are home to a variety of cool ambush predators that possess some of the greatest talents of camouflage in the world.

A tasseled scorpionfish rests on top of soft coral

Scorpionfishes…

Having your meals come to you is how we’d all like to live. There are a good number of fish found throughout the Coral Triangle that have evolved to live a sedentary but productive life by adapting an ambush-style of feeding. Instead of actively hunting their prey by chasing prey individual fish species have adapted a variety of methods to camouflage themselves on reef-associated habitats. Some utilize color and pattern to blend into their backgrounds while others employ texture and flaps of skin to break up their outlines. A few species merely bury themselves in sand with just their eyes, nostrils, and mouth barely exposed. Whatever method these ambush-species employ to hide, they are all extremely patient killers, lying perfectly still for hours or even days at a time, waiting and waiting for unwary prey to swim close and meet their demise.

Stonefish are so adept at camouflage, they are often completely invisible even in plain sight

Stonefish…

Though they are…