Pufferfish: Deadly delicacy

By July 20, 2014Australia

I had no clue, what this creature could be, which I found at an Australian beach. Yet, since it looked so wired, I did not dare to touch it and therefore took the picture with the animal half-covered with foam.

Later I learned the animal was a pufferfish, and preparing it for a “better” picture, would have been a really bad idea. Pufferfish are the second most poisonous vertebrates in the world and are highly toxic to most animals and to humans when eaten.

Since Pufferfish is a delicacy in some Asian countries, I wanted to make sure, you learn your vocabulary: Especially trained chefs, who are (mostly) able to distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous parts, serve them as fugu in Japan, bok in Korea and hétun in China. Pufferfish poison deadens the tongue and lips, causes dizziness and vomiting, followed by numbness and prickling over the body, rapid heart rate, decreased blood preasure and muscle paralysis. Good News: If you are still alive after 24 hours you are very likely to survive.

Pufferfish are able to fill their elastic stomachs with water (or air when outside the water) so the predator is unable to eat it and while inflating the poisonous spines straighten up. This way predators die from choking or their stomachs full of poison.

Yet, not all puffers are poisonous and some Japanese fish farmers have grown nonpoisonous puffers by controlling their diets.

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