The longhorn cowfish that is our unofficial mascot actually lives in an aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa. While we are not particularly big fans of aquariums, we are big fans of cowfish.
These funny little fish live in tropical or subtropical waters. Their habitat, being coral reefs, reef flats or protected seaward reefs, is often threatened. So we think it’s worth knowing something about them.
They are omnivorous, sometimes uprooting their food by blowing jets of water into the sand. While ours was quite small, they can grow up to 50 cms (20 inches) long. Their unique method of moving about, called ostraciiform swimming, causes them to look as if they are hovering. They are such slow swimmers, cowfish are easily caught by hand, making a grunting noise when captured. Their horns are mostly hollow and made of mineralized collagen fibers. If damaged, these horns can grow back within a few months. When severely stressed, the cowfish may exude a deadly toxin that is unique among fish poisons and quite a deterrent, apparently. They mate just before or after sunset.
We chose the cowfish for our mascot because it’s just goofy enough to be true. It reminds us that there is always something new to learn about the world and always a reason to do better for our planet. We love cowfish, and we hope you will too.