University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
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Barracuda Information

Barracuda fish belong to the Sphyraenidae family.  Consisting of more than 20 different species, Barracuda’s are predatory fish with long slim bodies, small scales, two separated dorsal fins, a jutting lower jaw and a large mouth with razor sharp teeth.  Their body is tapered at the ends and thicker in the middle.  Most species have a darker coloration on top and silver sides for camouflage. The smaller species grow to be less than 50 cm while the larger species, like the great barracuda, can grow to be 4-6 feet in length.  Most of their diet consists of anchovies, grunts and mullets.  Mainly a marine fish inhabiting both tropical and subtropical waters, some species can inhabit brackish water.  They are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Oceans, Caribbean and Red Seas.  They prefer coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and continental shelfs but have been spotted in the deep ocean as well.

Barracudas will move slowly through the water most of the time to survey potential prey.  Once they’ve spotted barracudainfosomething, they are capable of swimming up to 35 mph.  They’re one of the fastest sea creatures, but can only maintain this speed for a short distance to catch nearby prey.  Barracudas can be very bold and curious fish.  They are not always afraid to approach humans either.  While humans aren’t prey to barracudas, barracuda can pose a threat.  These fish look for anything silver and shiny they assume are small fish.  Flashy jewelry may catch their eye and cause them to charge and snap at the potential object.  Luckily, attacks by barracudas are rare and hardly ever fatal since the fish will likely stop biting once it recognizes the mistake.

Spawning timing and location isn’t well documented, but it is confirmed that the eggs are released and fertilized in the open water columns.  Juvenile barracuda seek commonly seek shelter among seagrass beds and mangroves before moving to the open ocean as adults.  Smaller barracudas are consumed by sharks, tuna and goliath groupers while larger barracudas have few predators aside from sharks and killer whales.  They are a sport fish that humans catch, but consumers are told to be wary of eating barracuda.  In some seas, barracuda can become impregnated with a toxic substance that will cause food poisoning known as ciguatera.  A toxic plankton known as Gambiendiscus toxicus attaches to algae that is consumed by herbivorous fish.  These fish are in turn consumed by barracudas.  The larger barracudas have a higher chance of containing higher toxin loads because they consume larger fish.  According to the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the barracuda is not a threatened or endangered species.