The barracuda (also known as Sphyraena) is a large species of fish found in the warmer, coastal regions of the world’s oceans. There are more than 20 different species of barracudas that vary in size from less than 50 cm to about 2 meters in length.
Habitat of the barracuda
Barracuda is widespread in all oceans, but is more common in more tropical regions, where there is an abundance of food. Although barracudas can be found in the depths of the ocean, they tend to prefer coastal habitats along continental shelves and near coral reefs.
Characteristics and feeding
Despite the difference in size and color between the barracuda species, they all have a similar elongated appearance and pointed head with powerful jaws, which contains rows of sharp teeth like fangs used to eat larger prey.
The barracuda is known to be an aggressive and dominant predator, often rely on the tactic of surprise in order to catch its prey. Barracudas are also capable of swimming at more than 40 km / h in short bursts that make overtaking prey that may be trying to swim away.
The barracuda is an opportunistic predator, feeding only on other animals in the surrounding water. The carnivorous barracuda feeds mainly on the smallest species of fish, marine invertebrates, crustaceans and squid, which the barracuda usually manages to ambush with tremendous power.
Due to the fact that barracudas can become very large fish, they have few natural predators in the ocean, besides sharks and killer whales. Humans are also one of the main predators of the barracuda, as they are hunted and eaten all over the world.
Although little is really known about the reproduction of the barracuda, it is known that its stage to spawn is during the spring. The female barracuda releases its eggs in water that are then fertilized externally. As with many fish species, once generated, the barracuda mother has no interest in caring for her young.
Nowadays, due to its aggressive nature, the barracuda is one of the most dominant predators within its coastal environments and has even been known to act aggressively towards humans who practice scuba diving or snorkeling in the water.
Found throughout the world in tropical seas, except in the eastern Pacific, the great barracuda is typical of the approximately 20 species of barracudas. It can be distinguished from another barracuda by the black points on its lower sides. It has a long slender body, a pointed head and two rows of sharp teeth.
Barracudas generally live among seagrasses and mangroves where they hide from predators. In their second year, they usually move to coral reefs. They are sometimes found in the open sea and often remain close to the surface, although they can be found at a depth of 325 feet.
The barracuda visually locates its prey, swims so fast up to 36 miles per hour to swallow its entire small prey or using its sharp teeth to tear a larger prey into pieces. They take advantage of a wide variety of fish, including anchovies, groupers, grunts, herring, horse mackerel, mullet and mojarra. Few predators are able to catch the barracuda, but sharks, tuna and goliath can take advantage of smaller adults.
Although barracudas have formidable sets of teeth and the puzzling habit of following divers and swimmers curiously, attacks on humans are rare. Very often, an attack consists of a single blow when the fish tries to steal prey from a spear. Their attacks are rarely lethal, but they can result in lacerations and the loss of some tissue.
Some of the teeth of the large barracuda point backwards to prevent the fish from escaping slippery while appropriating them.
Barracudas hunt more for sight and smell, a fact that can lead to unfortunate attacks on human divers. Barracudas are attracted to bright objects, such as silver fish. Human beings who enter the water with bright objects, such as watches and jewelery, can draw the attention of curious barracudas to investigate and confuse these objects with a food source.
The number of attacks on humans is probably exaggerated, but divers who enter the water where barracudas are present should leave shiny objects as a precautionary measure.
Interestingly, the ingestion of barracuda is considerably more harmful to humans than eating any other species of fish. People often get sick after ingesting barracudas, perhaps because the reef fish that eat the barracudas are the same ones that consume algae that may contain high levels of toxin.