Famous for their ability to inflate underwater, the pufferfish is a fish of many impressive traits. There are over 120 species of puffer fish, their tapered bodies and bulbous heads are some of their most well-known physical features.
The fish inflates itself as a defense mechanism towards predators. Once their bodies are inflated the fish appears to be up to three times its size. At times the puffer fish will be covered in spines making it harder for predators to bite down on them.
The way this fish expands is similar to the way humans can push out their stomachs without rupturing.
Other than having the fascinating ability to blow up under water, this isn’t the puffer fish’s only defense mechanism. The fish can also be very poisonous if eaten, to both humans and other animals.
Studies have revealed that puffer fish caught in Florida contain toxic substances such as tetrodotoxin. This substance can cause severe illness when consumed. Symptoms of the poisoning include: a tingling or numb feeling in the tongue, fingertips, face, and arms, vomiting, incoherent speech, and can even affect one's breathing. The toxin can also be deadly if consumed.
The toxin cannot be detected when present in the fish, there is no smell to it and it cannot be cleaned off the fish. Apart from the horrible side effects of the toxin there is no current antidote for tetrodotoxin.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation has banned the harvest of some puffer fish species in some areas throughout Florida.
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