Are puffer fish poisonous and is it safe to touch one? Yes and no. You should never touch a puffer fish!
This video was shared with DIVEIN.com on our Facebook page with the question: is this dangerous behavior for a diver?
When I saw this I got so angry. Not at the person who shared it, but at the dive guide. He clearly wanted to put on a show for his guests, and therefore decided to use this porcupine puffer fish as his entertainment props.
Puffer fish are poisonous, containing enough tetrodotoxin venom to kill 30 humans. That’s 1,200 times more lethal than cyanide. The diver in the video is, therefore, both irresponsible and quite stupid.
We earlier covered a related topic where a new dive guide didn’t know how to behave towards dive guests with this behavior: You can read and join the discussion here: The Bad Diver and Aquatic Awareness
The worst dive behavior
I’m really sad to share a video like this, but I feel it’s the only way to stop a behavior like this.
It’s a bad practice to touch anything underwater, but to deliberately chase and catch a puffer fish is just cruel. It also leads to destructive behavior with negative effects for the future of the ocean and the whole dive industry. You can read our guide on becoming a sustainable diver.
Do Puffer fish die when they puff up?
In the video, the biggest concern is not if they die, it’s what happens to the puffer fish when the dive guide makes it blow up.
When a puffer fish puffs up, it takes in water to increase the size. This violently forces the puffer’s organs to be pressed to the side, inside the body causing the organs to flatten. This creates an extreme amount of stress for the puffer fish. In some cases the puffer fish dies from this stress.
What would you do in this case?
Have you ever seen a diver touch or harm underwater life? What did you do to stop it?
Often scuba divers don’t know the harm caused by the human touch. Some divers are naive and don’t know the impact we can have on marine life. That’s why we, as divers, have a responsibility to share our knowledge and stop the ones destroying the environment.