If you ever dived in a tropical sea, you have probably seen a pufferfish or fugu. This is is the most poisonous fish in the world. Pufferfish is completely harmless to divers as long as they do not eat it.
It is known that this fish is a specialty and it’s only prepared only by excellent chefs who know exactly how to remove dangerous poison from it. Its liver, intestines, gonads, and skin are highly poisonous, killing around 60% of those who consume them. Puffer (or fugu) is edible and considered a delicacy in Japan and Korea when prepared properly.
Tetrodotoxin, which is produced by bacteria in fish, is the poison found in some organs of fugu fish. These bacteria are acquired by fish through their consumption of mollusks and other invertebrates. Tetrodotoxin is up to 100 times more deadly than black widow spider venom and over 1000 times more deadly than cyanide. It is one of the most toxic natural substances.
It’s also interesting to note that these fish are the only bony fish without eyelids that can close their eyes. Instead, they draw the eyes deep into the cavity before squeezing the surrounding skin.
Pufferfish is a master of self-defense. In addition to being the most poisonous fish in the sea, it is in danger of sucking a large amount of water into its elongated stomach and thus drastically increasing its volume to frighten the attacker. This actually turns them into a prickly ball three to four times larger than their normal size. However, this is clearly not good for buffer fish, so they only do so when they feel a serious threat. Divers are not essentially perceived as a threat to them.
Pufferfish don’t have shells, but instead, they have very unique spines. And when inflated their spine stands upright! Their teeth grow together and are constantly regenerating, so they are actually something like a strong combination of teeth and beaks with which they scrape algae and open shells. As they have four fused teeth, the family was named Tetraodontidae. There are many species of these fish, and some of them can grow longer than half a meter. Some are cannibals, so as soon as their first teeth grow, they start attacking their siblings, but their mouths are still too small so they can’t swallow them, but they cause them hundreds of small wounds and thus kill them.
Even more fascinating is that dolphins are obviously using them to “relax” a bit. They play with pufferfish fish and throw them at each other, and the dolphins then seem sleepy and stunned. Pufferfish, on the other hand, comes out of the game unscathed but a little upset.
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