Diver is Charged and Attacked by a Titan Triggerfish, an Aggressive Fish with Strong Chomping Jaws

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: September 5, 2023
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This diver had a very close encounter with a titan triggerfish in waters off Raja Ampat in Indonesia. The waters are crystal clear and the coral is looking magnificent. However, one of the residents is not very happy about human company. A female titan triggerfish has a nest nearby and is fully prepared to protect it from what she perceives to be a threat. These fish have very sharp teeth that they use for crunching coral and can swim at high speeds.

Luckily for this diver, she targets only his flippers. This is a common strategy for titan triggerfish which results in very few injuries amongst divers even though they are attacked. Having said that, we see that things can turn out very differently! Back on the boat another driver had a close encounter with the same fish and ended up with a nasty bite. As the clip at the bottom of this page shows, it’s a good idea to give Titan triggerfish nests a wide berth! 

Reef shark headbutts diver

Sharks are not the only hazard for divers, titan triggerfish can deliver nasty bites!

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©Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock.com

How to Avoid a Titan Triggerfish Attack When Diving

The best way to avoid getting injured by a titan triggerfish is to not get too close to them! They are usually solitary animals who sleep at night and are active during the day. The place where you are most likely to get attacked is near a nest and this will be by an irate parent. Nests are usually in flat, sandy areas amongst corals. Also, their aggression levels are often higher during the mating season when they become extremely territorial.

Just because you spot a titan triggerfish does not mean that you will always get attacked. Sometimes, they will just swim alongside you as if they are escorting you away from their nesting area. If this happens, it is best to cooperate with the fish and move in the direction that they want you to. It’s also a good idea to raise your fins and use them as a barrier between you and the fish. Then, hopefully, it will be your fins that are attacked rather than your body.

Their territory will extend upwards from the ocean floor in the shape of a cone. This means that as you rise to the surface, you need to get even further away from where the fish are. In many cases, it is a better idea to swim horizontally rather than vertically. This diver didn’t and look what happened to him!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Vitaliy 6447/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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