Damselfish – 12, Auntie Krista – 0

Posted by

When I’m diving, I usually don’t try to punch the fish. (In fact, I NEVER try to punch the fish). But I was sorely tempted during the two weeks we spent diving on Bonaire. Those little buggers attacked me on almost every dive and frequently made contact.

I’d be swimming along, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I’d feel something tug at one of my fins. At first, I thought it was just Uncle Richard getting lost again but then I would turn around and no one was there. No one except a little damselfish getting up in my face that is.

Damselfish may look small and not threatening but they are fiercely territorial.  According to Wikipedia, territorial aggression among Damselfish is often proportional to territory quality. I guess that explains why I was attacked so often on Bonaire – because that has got to be some prime territory. The waters were clear and the reefs were healthy and those damselfish weren’t letting any one else in! [Reminds me of a certain leader we have in the U.S. these days. Although I’m not sure our reef is all that healthy and the fact that they are rolling back environmental protections probably won’t help]

But back to damselfish. They may be all over the place, including eating my fins and poking my mask, but they are very difficult to photograph. They dart in, try to eat you and then swim away. My favorite is the yellowtail damselfish,sometimes called a midnight damsel fish, because it looks like a dark, starry night. I haven’t yet gotten a good photo of one of them but it’s currently a top goal (as is avoiding getting knocked out in the process).

In the mean time, watch this video from Scuba Shutterbug of a damsel attack in Cozumel. I swear this fish has since moved to Bonaire.

And here are pics of other fish that a) did not attack me and b) helpfully posed for photos.


  1. Auntie Krista is being sarcastic to damsel fish again. They didn’t notice. Damsel fish 12, Auntie Krista 1

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.