Attacked by a Triggerfish!

Koh Tao Travel Blog

 › entry 11 of 14 › view all entries
As the boat got closer to the first reef, I remember one of the dive crew saying to watch out for Triggerfish. I had seen them before and didn't think they looked threatening at all. Just another colorful reef fish. We all got in the water and decended. I was swimming a little faster and ahead of the group, which I shouldn't have been but there was so much to see. I started to admire all of the soft corals and play with a Nemo fish, poking my finger at him as he aggressively defended his home and then retreated back into his matching sea anemones (David vs Goliath). Then I turned around and something slammed into my mask and went by. I looked up and was staring into the open-mouthed, pissed off Triggerfish, whose territory I had crossed into. He was about 2-foot long, had big, sharp teeth, and the spike on his back was sticking straight up (meaning he was in attack mode). He came straight at me and I tried to punch at him. He tried to bite my hand and then swam off, turned around and headed straight back at me. I was breathing very heavily and could see my air gage needle falling. I told myself to stay calm and slowed my breathing down. Then I got on my back and kicked my flippers at him, managing to kick him in the side. He then swam off again. By this time the rest of the dive group had showed up. I motioned Triggerfish to warn them, but it was too late. He was back and started biting my dive buddy on her ankle. The dive master quickly grabbed her and fought off the Triggerfish and we all got the hell out of there. Some people had scattered off in all directions and some had swam to the surface. We later learned that the territory of Triggerfish is conal shaped and to get out of it, you need to swim down and horizontal, not up, because it gets wider near the surface. If you cannot avoid being attacked then get on your back and kick your flippers at it. We all made it safely back to the boat and the bite on my dive buddy's ankle was bleeding but wasn't too bad. It was funny because she had a tattoo of a heart with an arrow through it in the exact place on her ankle where she was bleeding. I had never been attacked under water before and it was kind of scary at the time (must have been karma for messing with the little Nemo). The main thing to remember is to stay as calm as you can, it never does any good to freak out or lose control under water.
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Koh Tao
photo by: RyanCorrea