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Great Barracuda

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Sphyraena barracuda

This long, tubular fish has actually a very pointed snout filled through two rows the teeth, and tiny fins set back towards its crescent caudal (tail) fin. That is a glowing blue-gray above, fading come silver and white below, usually through dark clues on its reduced sides, and also sometimes through faint darker bars on its top side. This is a successful daytime ambush hunter that can burst in increases to 35 mph, and is a danger to humans due to the fact that it will mistakenly strike shiny objects or fish recorded on spears. The can flourish to over 5 feet long and over 100 pounds.

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Order – PerciformesFamily – SphyraenidaeGenus – SphyraenaSpecies – barracuda

Common Names

Great barracuda, barracuda, barra, Commerson’s sea pike, and also short barracuda are typical English language names. Other names include alu (Carolinian), amerikanischer pfeilhecht (German), barkura (Miskito), barrcouda (French), barracuda bicuda (Portuguese), bicuda (Portuguese), chai (Palauan), gaviana (Portuguese), kadd (Arabic), kaku (Hawaiian), kucul (Malay), kupala (Hawaiian), ono (Tahitian), picua (Spanish), picúa corsaria (German), picuda (Spanish), seraw (Carolinian), snoek (Dutch), tenak (Malay), and zub-saalim (Somali) are common names that describe this fish.

Importance come Humans

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Although not prized as a commercial fish in phibìc American waters, the great barracuda puts increase a great fight and is therefore esteemed by some anglers together a gamefish. They might be captured with a variety of gear including handlines, rod and reel, seines, trammel nets, and gill nets. The good barracuda has been implicated in cases of ciguatera poisoning within particular areas the its range. Ciguatera poisoning is resulted in by the bioaccumulation the ciguatoxins in the flesh of tropical naval fishes. Ciguatoxins are developed by maritime dinoflagellates that prosper attached to marine algae and also as such may be incidentally ingested by herbivorous fishes. Big piscivorous reef apartment fishes occupying the apex that the food chain become reservoirs for the highest amounts of ciguatoxin by feeding on various other members that the reef community. Poisoned civilization report gastrointestinal maladies that may last number of days, a general weakness in your arms and also legs, and also a reversal in the capability to distinguish hot versus cold. The condition is serious and also symptoms may persist because that weeks.

Danger to Humans

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Barracuda cruising end seagrass bed. Photograph courtesy NOAA

Attacks on human beings by good barracuda room rare. Inquisitive, sight-oriented fish, barracudas periodically exhibit the unnerving habit of rolling snorkelers and divers. When attacks occur much more often than not it is because a barracuda attempts to steal a fish native spearfishers or mistakenly interprets a shining object, such together a diving knife, because that the glint that a shining fish. Such cases usually consist of one really quick strike, the result of which might be a laceration and also some lose of tissue. Fatalities indigenous barracuda assaults are rare. In 1947, a fatality off vital West was attributed come a barracuda, complied with by another case off the shore of phibìc Carolina in 1957. A well-documented barracuda attack developed on a totally free diver off Pompano Beach, Florida in 1960. The diver to be bitten twice, and the result injuries forced 31 stitches. However, such assaults are uncommon and more often 보다 not easily preventable v a couple of simple precautions.

Conservation

The barracuda is not noted as endangered or breakable with the human being Conservation Union (IUCN). The IUCN is a worldwide union the states, governmental agencies, and non-governmental institutions in a partnership that assesses the conservation standing of species.

Geographical Distribution

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World distribution map for the good barracuda

Occurring an international in close to shore tropical and also subtropical seas (30°N – 30°S), the great barracuda is common in the western Atlantic s from Massachusetts (U.S.) come Brazil. It is likewise found in the Gulf that Mexico and also the Caribbean Sea and also the eastern Atlantic Ocean, Indo-Pacific, and also the Red Sea. It is rare or missing in locations of the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Habitat

Great barracuda commonly occur in nearshore coral reefs, seagrasses, and also mangroves. Castle may additionally reside in the open up ocean, living mostly at or close to the surface, although they are at times discovered at depth to 325 feet (100m). Barracudas have tendency to be solitary but are sometimes discovered in tiny aggregations end reefs and also sandy bottoms. Juveniles mature among mangroves and also seagrass beds, habitats that market cover native predators. During the second year the life, barracuda move to depths reef habitats. Juveniles and also some adults have actually been it was observed in areas that receive high quantities of freshwater input, however adults normally tend to avoid areas of brackish water.

Biology

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Distinctive FeaturesThe an excellent barracuda has a slender, centralized body the is round in the mid-section. The top of the head in between the eyes is nearly flat and also the mouth is large, containing many large sharp teeth and a projecting reduced jaw. The pectoral fin tips expand to the beginning of the pelvic fins. The spinous and soft dorsal fins space widely separated and also the twin emarginate tail fin exhibits pale tips on every lobe.

ColorationBody coloration the the great barracuda is brownish or bluish gray top top the dorsum and upper side, with a greenish cast shading to silvery top top the sides and a white belly. The upper side may have 18-23 dark bars most regularly observable once the fish is resting or end a variegated substrate. The black spots top top the lower sides that the good barracuda differentiate it from other species of barracuda. The 2nd dorsal fin, anal, and also caudal fins are violet come black v whitish tips. Young barracuda exhibit pale reticulations ~ above the dorsum and a dark stripe on one of two people side the breaks right into spots together the fish grows. These trends are rather ephemeral though as juveniles can change their shade patterns to closely match the of their surroundings. These alters in coloration offer to camointer-base.netage the fish indigenous predators and well as wary prey. Adults have similar coloration along with a an ext silvery appearance that is beneficial to a fish that swims close to the surface ar of the water.

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DentitionThe great barracuda has actually a huge mouth containing 2 sets that razor-sharp teeth, making the an effective predator. Over there is a row of small razor-sharp teeth along the external of the jaw through a larger collection of dagger-like teeth within these. The closely set teeth are flattened and triangular through sharp edges offered to tear the meat of prey. Long needlelike this fit right into their very own holes in the the opposite jaw, enabling the an excellent barracuda to close that mouth. This offers its prey little chance the escape. This fish grabs its prey, swallowing tiny victims totality while larger prey is cut into pieces to it is in swallowed separately.

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Great barracuda: keep in mind the dual emarginate tail fin. Picture courtesy NOAA

Size, Age, and also GrowthGreat barracuda are large fish. The document for a hook and line caught good barracuda is 1.7 meters (5.5 feet), 44 kg (103 lbs) and the types is reported to achieve a size of 2 meters, 50 kg. Any barracuda over 4.8 feet (1.5 m) in length have the right to be considered an extremely large. Based on scale analysis of big specimens, an excellent barracuda have a lifespan of at least 14 years. Sex-related maturity is got to at a length of around 23 customs (60 cm). In ~ this size, males are typically around two years and also females nearby to four years of age.

Food HabitsGreat barracudas feeding on selection of prey including fishes such as jacks, grunts, groupers, snappers, small tunas, mullets, killifishes, herrings, and anchovies. Barracudas have actually a large gape and very sharp teeth, permitting them to feeding on big fishes by chopping them in half. One opportunistic predator, good barracuda feeding throughout the water column. Generally a diurnal fish, an excellent barracuda locate their prey largely by sight. The body plan of the good barracuda is designed because that speed and also it is estimated that height speed for the types may be as quick as 36 mph (58 kph).

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Sphyraena barracuda close-up. Picture courtesy NOAA

ReproductionThe timing and location that spawning has actually not been well documented. The is believed that spawning takes place in deeper, offshore waters. Proof exists the barracuda are seasonal spawners and in the Florida tricks they are thought to each other in the spring. Throughout the spawning event, eggs space released and fertilized in open up waters and also dispersed through the currents. Newly hatched larvae bear small resemblance come adults. Seeking safety from predators as well as a source of food, the larvae clear up in shallow, vegetated locations of estuaries. Juveniles end up being recognizable as miniature versions of the adults at around .5 inch (1.3 cm) in length. In ~ a size of around 1.2 inch (3cm), the juveniles relocate to open waters in ~ the estuary, at some point leaving the estuary altogether at a size of about 5 centimeter (2 inches) in length. These juvenile barracuda spend the remainder of their very first year the life within mangrove and seagrass habitats. During the second year that life, they move to deep reef areas where they will invest their adulthood.

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PredatorsThere are couple of predators that are large enough and also fast enough to feed on adult good barracuda. Sharks, tuna, and also goliath grouper have actually been known to feed on little adult barracuda. Juveniles likely fall prey come a selection of inshore predators.