You may have noticed that on this blog I post a lot about mammals, a fair bit about birds, and not much on fish. Basically, I know a ton about mammals, a reasonable amount about birds, and very very little about fish. Still, I try and include a fish every so often, because they are amazing animals. Also, this makes the blog educational for me, as well as you, my dear reader!

Today I’m going to write about the barracuda. I didn’t know a lot about them, except that they have a fearsome reputation and one of my hockey teams in NHL 2012 is called the Znojmo Barracudas. Barracudas are fish in the genus Sphyraena, and are the only members of the family Sphyraenidae. They are found tropical and subtropical areas of oceans, and like to hang around coral reefs (who can blame them, coral reefs are beautiful).

A school of fish trying to avoid a nasty barracuda.
A school of fish trying to avoid a nasty barracuda.

One of the most recognizable things about barracudas is their shape. They are long and thin, basically looking like long tubes that can swim. Most barracudas are grey, dark blue, or green. They can get really big, with some species growing up to two metres in length. Which is terrifying, considering the barracuda has long, knife-like teeth. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to run into a school of two metre long fish with giant, piranha-like teeth.

Of course, encountering a school of full grown barracudas is rare, as adults are usually solitary. It is young and partially grown barracudas that frequently form large schools, although massive schools of adults have been observed (albeit extremely rarely). Barracudas have a vicious reputations, and they’ve earned it. They kill a vast array of fishes, some as large as themselves. To kill large fish they rip out hunks of flesh with their razor-sharp teeth, and deal with small fish by biting them in two. Barracudas will often kill more than they can eat, and some have reported that barracudas will herd fish into shallows and guard them, waiting to attack the fish until they have digested their last meal and are hungry again.

Those are some mean looking teeth. Imagine being attacked by that mouth.
Those are some mean looking teeth. Imagine being attacked by that mouth.

Despite their fearsome reputation, barracuda attacks on humans are relatively rare. They usually attack people when they are provoked, or shiny objects confuse the fish and make them think people are prey. I know I’ve said this lots on this blog, but it’s always good advice: don’t agitate animals. It’s not nice, and you might get hurt. Though if you’re dumb enough to piss off a two meter long fish with razors in its mouth, I guess I don’t feel that bad for you.

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