Ali and the Triggerfish

As most of my friends know, I am deathly afraid of the triggerfish during their mating season (which is Habagat season, meaning right now!). But being part of the Divemaster class, this translates into a super-huge challenge. I expect that at some point in the future, Dave will make me deal with this. (sounds cruel right? I am hoping he does that with love!) So two things, I will either have enough presence of mind to act like the Divemaster I was meant to be OR my brain will crash in fear and I will hide behind the Super Instructor and cling to his tank for dear life. 

Let’s hope I can be more mature, okay?

I want to tell you why I am so afraid of the triggerfish, not to scare you but to make you aware. On a regular day, the triggerfish would not so much as look in your direction, bubbles and all. But when mating season comes, and they are awash with hormones, if you so much as look their way, they will come charging at you. (like a bull in an invisible arena!) They build nests and guard it with such feisty aggression that anyone or anything that comes into the radius they set, is bound for a bad beating. And they are completely relentless. Once in Twin Rocks a triggerfish went after Virgil. (it was just the two of us diving) And being the big pansy that I was, I hid between some rocks and kept my bubbles small, while watching him kick and kick and kick. The triggerfish got away with a piece of Virgil’s fin after about five minutes of madness. This happened because we passed by the nest 20ft away. Tell me, how can a fish without teeth (it has a beak) break off a piece of a fin made of tough plastic?

At the moment, I do not have a foolproof way of dealing with the triggerfish season.  But there are things that I do to prevent bad encounters.

1. When I see that fish moving in circles, I change paths. I try to avoid being noticed by them. (when I go diving, there is always two of them, as if being attracted by some unseen force from me..ironic really) But it’s usually impossible because I am huge in black wetsuit and with a group of bubblers like me.

2. I fin like mad and get away as fast as my legs can propel me! But this is really selfish. (like save myself and watch the battle from a safe distance- a sissy’s way out)

None of my methods help anyone I guess.

So now, dear readers, since it is triggerfish season once more, please send us your comments and suggestions on how to deal with them. 🙂     


  1. I was attecked by a triggerfish too a few meters from the Barge.I was going towards the direction of the Barge when I came face to face with the triggerfish. We looked at each other eye to eye and he did not flinch. I though it was okay to swim through since he did not attack when suddenly I felt a tug on my left fin and then another. When I looked back to check, the triggerfish was attacking my fins. I immediately went to swallower depths and motioned to my companions to do the same. Whew, good thing the triggerfish did not break my fins.

  2. i noticed that they attack or bite fins… are they thinking you’re a fish? no fins=harder to swim?

    at least they bite fins not fingers 😀

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