It's rarely easy to rescue any wild animal tangled in ocean garbage, even relatively placid ones like dolphins or sea turtles. But as the video above shows, an entangled porcupinefish requires an especially sharp-witted — and sure-handed — rescuer.
The rescuer in this video is a volunteer for Core Sea, a conservation group based on the island of Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand. He didn't have a knife when he found a porcupinefish tangled in a discarded fishing net at Chaloklum Bay Resort, so he had to improvise. Using a broken glass bottle — another piece of ocean garbage, ironically, albeit a less insidious one — he began to carefully cut away the line.
Porcupinefish can inflate their bodies by swallowing water, a defense mechanism that makes them harder for predators to eat. They also have long, sharp spines, as their name suggests, that stick out when they inflate. The porcupinefish in this video was clearly upset, inadvertently making the rescue attempt even more difficult by gradually inflating as the snorkeler cut strands of fishing line one by one.
These spikes scare off many would-be predators, points out Earth Touch, but they may also make the fish more vulnerable to "ghost nets" like this. And, of course, they also pose a risk for anyone in close quarters with a perturbed porcupinefish.
The volunteer shows admirable patience and resolve, not to mention efficiency, finishing the delicate task in less than 150 seconds. But perhaps the most heartwarming aspect of this video is how a second porcupinefish — presumably the protagonist's mate — dutifully hangs around until the rescue is complete.
Porcupinefish may be prickly, but apparently even they have a soft side.