Porcupinefish – Animal Spotlight

November 28th, 2023 • uwt

Porcupinefish – Animal Spotlight

Pufferfish are a well known family of ocean dwellers. These uniquely shaped fish come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colours. They are from the Tetraodotformes order which includes closely related families such as triggerfish, filefish, boxfish, and even mola. However, the coolest looking of all surely is the porcupinefish.


Porcupinefish are the true stars of this family with their oversized heads and giant bulbous eyes. Their distinct look makes them easy to distinguish when encountering one in the water. They are mainly found in inshore tropical and temperate waters but appear in pelagic water as well. In Indonesia we encounter them in a variety of environments with tropical reefs and mucky environments both being home to these comical characters.

When encountering porcupine fish underwater, it’s surprising to see them out in the open, far away from cover. They are often found swimming in the water column with nary a thought of danger. They can be quite curious toward divers and don’t run for cover like most fish normally do. This allows photographers to get up close and personal with these animated fish. The reason for their bold disposition is due to two defensive capabilities that make them undesirable to predators. One defense is their ability to balloon to a large size which makes their skin spikes stick straight up. This makes it hard for predators to bite into them. Their other defensive mechanism is their toxicity, many of their organs contain a powerful tetrodotoxin. This toxin acts as a deterrent for other fish to stay away.

Porcupinefish are a favorite subject for photographers as their animated faces work well on both photo and video. However, it’s important to be a responsible diver and not stress these animals into blowing themselves up. This behavior is not good for the health of the fish. If you would like to encounter one of these charismatic fish, Bali is one of the best places to do so. We offer custom diving trips in Bali, why not join one and allow our professional guides to introduce you to our wonderful home.