Creatures mainly outside of our Gardens; Land, Water and Sea
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
I have been doing a bit of scuba instructing over the past few days. All straightforward stuff, and the two guys I had with me both turned out to be very good, and had rapidly picked up the basic skills of diving.
It was day two of their open water diving, just their third dive, but they had already pretty much mastered underwater buoyancy to a good standard, and so I was happy to leave the main group of four other trainees, some of whom were still going up and down in the water like yo-yos with their instructor and divemaster, and take my two lads off with me on a gentle swim. On day one of their open water diving the visibility on the second dive of the day was really poor, and so as the visibility at this spot wasn't great but adequate, I got them to do a compass skill exercise. This involves using a compass to swim in a straight line, turn around and come back on a reciprocal course to the start point. I wanted the guys to have a go at this skill on this dive, dive three, rather than leaving it to dive number four as I had a feeling the visibility at the next site was going to be bad again. They both did this quickly and well enough, giving us plenty of time to explore the dive site before having to ascent back to surface.
We have been dropped a fair way off a small island and its surrounding reef that was our dive site for this first dive of the day, and so I decided to take the compass back, set a course myself towards the reef and to swim for ten minutes or so up to the reef and then to turn around and swim back to the boat.
It was as we approached the reef, a few minutes into our swim, that we wandered into the territory of an angry, big trigger fish. This one was a fair size, I would say it was about 40 cms long (15 inches). These large fish are known to be very territorial. Worse still, they have nasty teeth and strong jaws and have been known to take a bite out of a diver's fins, even worse, a chunk of diver's flesh.
To be honest, although I have seen quite a few trigger fish in the past, I wasn't prepared for an attack on myself by one of these rather feisty creatures.
Post event knowledge is a wonderful thing and I have since learnt the thing not to do, but what many divers do end up doing when startled by one of these fish, is to try to swim up and away from an aggressive trigger fish. It appears that they protect a cone-like area above their nest and hence swimming up just makes it look to them as if you are hanging around in their territory longer than necessary.
Fortunately, as much by instinct as anything, I did what turns out to be the best thing to do in a situation like this. I turned on my back, so I could stare into its beady fish eyes as it closed in rapidly, turning on its side and darting back at the last minute like some demented jet fighter pilot. I swam backwards and away from it, staying more or less near the bottom and kicked back at the beast as it went for me with my fins. A bite on the fins is painless, and as they are large and bright, they seem to be the thing these little monsters will go for first. On the other hand, I'm not sure painless could be said if it managed to get a chunk out of my leg.
I didn't think the thing was going to give up, but eventually after a minute or so, it obviously thought I was far enough away from its territory, did a sort of victory roll, and went back to its business of pottering around its favorite bit of coral. I looked around and spotted that the two lads with me had ascended a couple of metres. Maybe the wrong thing to do in the circumstances but as it was solely focused on me, it didn't bother them.
We swam on for another couple of minutes and I spot yet another trigger fish lurking ahead. Needless to say, we gave that one a wide berth. We had then to turn around and to swim back along the same course, so I was more than a little worried that we would run into trigger fish number one again. Fortunately for us, as my underwater navigation skills are far from spot on accurate, and there was a bit of a current, we didn't spot it on the return leg.
We completed dive four with no further fish attacked but as one of my divers had a dodgy tummy, we had to ascend after 30 minutes and abandon the rest of the dive. We got back to the dive shop and completed the paperwork to say the two lads were now certified open water divers and logged their dives. They said they were pretty scared at the time of the trigger fish attack but then again they could have a joke about it; 'On just our third dive, our instructor got attacked by a big fish'. Easy for them to laugh, I must admit I was a bit freaked out at the time.
Oh goodness what an experience to go through. I have never heard of these fish but do know that lots of strange fish lurk in tropical waters.
Glad you came through it unscathed and can at least talk about the experience as something that not many go through. You did learn something from it and luckily it doesn't put you off from the diving that you enjoy so much.
All the best
I am now a widow and live with my memories.
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