Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
White Sand Beaches Are Made of Fish Poop

White Sand Beaches Are Made of Fish Poop


If you’ve ever bathed in the sun on a tropical
white sand beach, you were probably lying in mounds of fish poo. I’m Anna Rothschild,
and this is Gross Science. Parrotfish live in tropical waters near coral
reefs around the world. They eat the algae that clings to the coral, scraping it off
with their powerful bird-like beaks. They’ll often break off whole chunks of coral, which
they grind up with these teeth they have not in their mouths, but in their throats called
“pharyngeal teeth.” The coral passes right through them, and comes out the other end
as a fine, white sand. The amount varies by species, but it’s estimated that a single
giant humphead parrotfish can poop out over 11,000 lbs of sand a year! In fact, a huge
portion of the sand found in Caribbean and Hawaiian beaches was actually created this
way. But, that’s not the only thing that makes
these guys a little gross. When juvenile parrotfish sleep, they swaddle themselves in. Scientists
aren’t entirely sure why they do this, but they think the mucus cocoon might be a way
to block the fish’s scent from either predators or parasites that try to feast on them while
they sleep. Finally, one more noteworthy characteristic
is that some parrotfish change their sex during their lifetime. This can happen in a variety
of ways, but in many species, all the babies are born female and then some will become
male once they mature. Way to go, Parrotfish—be who you wanna be! As you can tell, these creatures have a ton
of truly excellent qualities, including how they taste. In many places, parrotfish meat
is considered a delicacy. But research is indicating that these guys are a really important
part of reef communities. By eating algae, they help keep reefs clean and healthy. So,
we need to be careful to protect these sand-pooping, mucus-wrapped, weed-wackers of the sea. Ew.

90 comments on “White Sand Beaches Are Made of Fish Poop

  1. what about doing a video on potential link between healthy gut flora and allergies; Adding how the miss/over use of antibiotics could effect both might add an interesting twist.

  2. have you made a video on poop transplants, what I have heard it has something to do with bacteria in bowel. but im not sure how it works

  3. I wish I lived somewhere with white sand beaches… then I could make a comment about stepping in poop to everyone I saw walking barefoot XD

    I knew all this stuff, except for the fact the parrotfish have teeth in their throats! So cool! I always love looking in the mouths of dead fish I find to see what their teeth look like, finding one of these would be amazing!

  4. This got me curious. Is the Parrot fish then in danger of being extinct yet, or is it just something, as you said, we have to bare careful not to happen?

  5. Seriously, 11,000 pounds of sand a year?!?!? That's something like 30 pounds of sand a day. Which is a friggin' crapload of sand. What kind of intestinal tract does this animal have

  6. I have a question. I was told at a science teacher convention in Texas about twelve years ago that the wonderful smell of the ocean isn't from salt in the water but is caused by emissions from Dynoflagellates as they mate. What say you on this?

  7. This implies a good portion of FL sand, inland and coastal, is made of fish shit x.x
    Also doesn't anyone else think she reminds you of Rosanna Pansino? 😛

  8. Come to farasan island in saudi araba. The parrot fish comes. Every year in this island

    Go to farasan harred in serch

  9. I've had the pleasure of watching parrotfish eat coral while snorkeling off the Cayman Islands. You can actually hear an audible crunch when they bite down. Interestingly, the early Mayans believed that the parrotfish was appointed by the gods to be the guardian and keeper of the ocean.

  10. The more reason not to go to those tourist-infested white sand beaches. Well, guess I'll go for black sand beach next. Please don't ruin that well…

  11. Could parrot fish every poop out enough sand to make enough little islands that there would be no ocean left?

  12. Wipo is a black sand beach and have been made by broken down rock I would know I live on the road there gusts 10 miles and I'll be there

  13. I love this channel. It never does click bait. Especially with those titles you're going to think it's someone trying to get views.

  14. in boracay it's illegal to steal white sand from the beach… they dont know what they're stealing and protecting hahahahahahaha

  15. Wait if sand is fish poop and sand can be turned into glass, does that mean I just stepped on a shard of fish poop? 🤔

  16. So basically, Parrot fish poop out white, ground up, coral… so it's like us pooping out gum after accidentally eating it. Technically , you can still "re-chew" the gum, but it's covered in feces.

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