Diving In Singapore: Starry Pufferfish
Starry Pufferfish - Arothron Stellatus
Common names for this puffer include the Stellate Puffer, Starry Puffer or Starry Toadfish.
The Starry Puffer is usually found in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region.
This oval-shaped, spherical and relatively elongated fish can grow up to 120cm in length. Instead of scales, the Starry Puffer has a rough, prickly skin. They are quite literally thick-skinned ;)
The most well known trait of the pufferfish is its ability to puff up, hence the name. The pufferfish does so by swallowing large amounts of water (or air if necessary), expanding the elastic layer of skin on its stomach and giving it a large ball-like appearance. This ball-like appearance makes the pufferfish appear larger and less edible, hence warding off potential predators.
Using only four strong large teeth, this pufferfish feeds mostly on corals, sponges, crustaceans, algae and sea urchins.
Don't be fooled by the cute demeanor of the pufferfish. Considered the second most poisonous creature in the world, pufferfish have enough poison to kill 30 human adults! Stored in its liver, the pufferfish contains a toxin called tetrodotoxin. To make things worse, there is currently no known antidote for this toxin. However, just like all marine creatures, if left undisturbed this cute animal will wish no harm upon scuba divers.
The intensity of the pufferfish's colour is often associated with the level of toxin it produces. Pufferfish that have more vibrant colours tend to be more toxic.
Here in Pulau Hantu we have our very own resident Starry Pufferfish that you can look out for. Do you think she should have a name?...Cuddlepuff?...Let us know ;)
Did You Know
The Spots on the Starry Pufferfish are inversely proportionate to it's size. This means that smaller, more juvenile puffers will have larger and fewer spots while larger, matured puffers will have numerous smaller spots.
Sharks are the only species immune to a Pufferfish's toxin!