Fish of the Week: Barracuda

Barracuda (genus Sphyraena)

Courtesy of Wikipedia
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Throughout subtropical and tropical oceans, you probably recognize this fish with big pointy teeth sticking out from its underbite: the barracuda! Feared by swimmers, this fish is an opportunistic predator, relying on short bursts of speed to capture other fish passing by. Their pointy teeth rip off chunks of flesh and are usually hunt alone. If you’ve ever seen them in a large aquarium, they usually hang out at the top of the tank, slowly swimming. Watch them speed up and dart around if any food enters the tank! There is a wide variety in sizes of barracuda, ranging between less than 50 cm to 2 meters. The natural predators of barracudas are primarily sharks and killer whales, but they are also hunted by humans for eating.

Barracudas are known for attacking humans underwater. Barracudas mistake humans for large predators, and will try to take a chunk out of whatever food they suspect the swimmer/diver/snorkeler to have. It is recommended when swimming in an area known to have barracuda, remove all shiny jewelry, which can look like the flash of a fish swimming nearby. This includes rings, necklaces and any chains you have hanging from your equipment.

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