Jul 23 2010

The Titan Triggerfish

Titan Triggerfish – the Facts!

The Titan Triggerfish is an infamous character of many tropical reefs, with stories abounds of how they aggressively attack divers (especially during the breeding season). Stories of people have bodily parts bitten, or the more lucky just having holes in their fins… Most divers are warned of Titan’s during dive briefing etc, which does tend to heighten the anxiety for divers when they see them!

Well, here are some real facts about these misunderstood creatures!

Titans are extremely territorial, and especially during the breeding season on April/May they will protect there nest aggressively. During these months the male will guard the nest against all on-comers, including divers; the ‘Protection Zone’ goes directly up from the nest in a cone shape (as they can see upwards).

Their eyes are independently rotating, heavy armored scales; they are the largest member of the Triggerfish family and can grow up to 75cm!

Their bites can cause infection as they contain a natural poison called Ciguatoxin, which can have serious affects on humans; in extreme cases causing heart attacks or paralysis. They may also use ramming techniques to scare other creature’s away (including divers).

Titan’s are generally short sighted, so cannot see well at distance.

They usually feed on hard corals or hard bodied invertebrates and algae, NOT divers!

The most important thing to remember here is that we are invading their world and territory; they are only following there instincts with regard to what they think is a threat. Unfortunately, divers act aggressively back to them either hitting them with points/knifes/etc. This is understandable considering the stories that get told, but this can also have an aggravating effect. The titan will learn that divers are even more dangerous, and hence attack them more (even when not provoked).

I am a bit of a fan of titan’s, I must admit… Some of my friends have said I`m crazy, but they have a certain attraction; kind of like the misunderstood kid in school. I now have many photographs of them (close up), and find them very interesting to watch and study.

Personally I have never been attacked by a titan, but I know people who have. One of them is a dive master friend; he was leading a dive in Tioman when a large titan charged at him. I moved him to one side, and took the front position. The titan circled for another attack… It hovered about 4 or 5 meters from me starring at me, so I took the opportunity to take a photograph of it! Which obviously made it made, it charged at my camera strobe; as it came close I gently pushed its body away from my camera. It swam off a little way then looked at me again and swam off, and we didn’t see it again. Just proving that there is a non aggressive way to deal with them, remember they have a right to lead a peaceful life too!

About the Author

SDI Instructor Trainer with Dolphin Dive Adventures and Services in Singapore, I have been diving around Asia for over 6 years.

Don’t Mess with a Titan Triggerfish!

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