Like the puffers, porcupinefish are able to take in water and puff themselves into a tight ball. Unlike the Arothron puffers, though, their body is covered with hard, sharp spines that extend straight out when the animal inflates. It literally becomes a ball of spikes, which one would think would be very hard to swallow. A photo of an inflated Diodon liturosus is shown under that species. The spines can easily puncture a diver's skin. I once saw a diver reach into a small cave and grab one of these, intending to make it puff up. However, the fish puffed too quickly, before the diver could pull it out of the cave. The puffing porcupinefish pinned the diver's hands to the walls of the cave. Even though he was wearing gloves, his hands received numerous puncture wounds. Just desserts. In addition to the sharp spines, the teeth of porcupinefish are fused into strong beaks capable of breaking up crabs and seashells. The beak could also take a nasty bite out of a diver if handled carelessly.
Having its parasites picked by the cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus.
Created 22 October 2010
Updated 13 February 2016
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