King Triggerfish Attacks, Wounds Diver

Reported Story

I was attacked by a large king triggerfish while diving one of the reef sanctuaries just off the beach in the Philippines. The fish hit me hard in the head from behind. When my buddy/divemaster saw that I had a large bite wound in my scalp, we quickly aborted the dive. The divemaster and I skipped the safety stop and had the boat take us back to the beach, where an emergency responder was waiting.

I didn't see the fish before it charged at me. It charged once, turned, and once more charged right at me before I could turn and fin away. I fended off the animal with my dive camera initially before it struck me in the head.

The divemaster and several others in my group witnessed the attack. The divemaster applied pressure on the ascent, then I applied pressure with a towel while on the boat ride back to the beach.

I was helped to a lounge chair on the beach where the resort emergency responder provided first aid and cleaned and dressed the wound. I was then taken to the hospital for stitches.


King triggerfish are known for their aggressive behavior. Several divers with whom I discussed this case have experienced similar episodes, but nobody was really injured. However, this triggerfish behavior seems to be quite common, so divers should be aware of it.

Triggerfish are very protective of their territory, and they will fight anybody and anything who encroaches it. To learn more about fish behavior, read these files:
See some documented attacks on Youtube: