Islands of parrotfish poop?

If you’ve ever stood on a white sand beach in Hawaii or on coral atolls the Maldives, you were actually standing on a giant pile of parrotfish poop. According to a new study, these animals play an integral role in converting reef coral into the sediment that forms and maintains coral reef islands. Learn more in my podcast for Scientific American’s 60-Second Science.

Parrotfish have sharp beak-like teeth that help them scrape algae off of coral, breaking off small pieces in the process. (Credit: Nhobgood via Wikimedia Commons)
Parrotfish have sharp beak-like teeth that help them scrape algae off of coral, breaking off small pieces in the process that they excrete as sediment. (Credit: Nhobgood via Wikimedia Commons)
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