• Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

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Porcupine Fish of Gorontalo

Porcupine fish add to the diversity of marine life in Gorontalo. About twenty species of this unusual fish are found worldwide. Divers are most likely to encounter three of them in Gorontalo.

Prickly Balls

Porcupinefishes are similar to puffers. They have distinctive body spines. When threatened, they will ingest water. This dramatically increases their body size and causes their spines to protrude. It is consider bad manners for divers to provoke this defensive behavior. The fish is terrified that it will be eaten.

Black-blotched porcupine fish

Blotched porcupine fish in cave
A Blotched porcupinefish scurries into a cave

The most common porcupine fish found in Gorontalo is the Black-blotched porcupine fish (Diodon liturosus). It is found in tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region. It is usually about 45 cm in length. Like other porcupinefishes, it eats sea urchins, gastropods and crustaceans. If divers see more than one, it is mating season. Usually, porcupinefishes are solitary. They are also nocturnal. During the day, they prefer caves and sheltered crevasses.

Similar to the Black-blotched porcupine fish is the Long-spined porcupine fish. The only visible difference is that it lacks dark spots on its fins. It is found in warm tropical waters worldwide. Its official name is Diodon holocanthus.

Spot-fin porcupine fish

Spot-fin porcupine fish hides
A Spot-fin porcupinefish hides under a rock

The Spot-fin is the largest porcupine fish found in Gorontalo. Its scientific name is Diodon hystrix. It grows up to 91 cm and is covered with black spots. It is found worldwide. Like other porcupinefishes, certain of its glands contain tetrodotoxin. This is a powerful neurotoxin.

Orbicular burrfish

Orbicular burrfish eye
The eye of an Orbicular burrfish

This small type of porcupine fish grows to only 30 cm. Its official name is Cyclichthys orbicularis. Unlike the others, it is found on sandy or mud bottoms. Divers will see it while muck diving. It prefers hiding in sponges during the day. The iridescent eye of this fish graces the back cover of the book Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise.

Diving in Gorontalo is exciting because of the incredible variety of marine life. To glimpse one of Gorontalo’s porcupinefishes, please book your dive trip with us.

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