As I stare at dark gray skies in mid-afternoon Hudson Valley, a photo of a barracuda in The Bermudian brings back exciting memories of snorkeling with schools of barracudas in Marathon, Florida, oh-so-long ago. The experience provided a lesson in how to relax, change my mindset (irrational and profound fear) and get used to their curiosity and their exhibition of teeth. So, just for the fun of it, here is some general information from The Bermudian.
Probably a fish you’d hope to avoid when snorkeling or SCUBA diving, the barracuda has a reputation for being a bit of a stalker and thanks to their predator status and reputation for liking shiny things, the barracuda can be intimidating. But there’s much about the barracuda that we bet you don’t know, like the fact that the fish has been developing its hunting skills for 50 million years! Here are 7 other facts about the barracuda you probably don’t already know.
1. There are more than 20 different species of barracuda that range in size from less than 50cm to nearly 2 meters in length. Regardless of the species, all barracuda have a similar elongated appearance, with a pointed head and powerful jaws, containing rows of sharp fang-like teeth used for eating larger prey.
2. The barracuda’s diet consists of different types of fish: groupers, anchovies, mullets, snappers and sometimes squids and crustaceans.
3. Shiny objects attract the barracuda’s attention. Because of that, they usually hunt fish with golden or silver scales. Divers and snorkelers therefore might be wise to avoid wearing jewelry while in the water.
4. While we are cautious and sometimes fearful of barracudas, we actually pose much more of a threat to them than they do us. In addition to habitat destruction, climate change and pollution, barracudas are also vulnerable to trophy fishing.
5. Barracudas can swim at 25 miles per hour which is useful both for hunting and for escaping from predators such as killer whales and sharks.
6. Generally, adult barracudas are considered to be solitary when it comes to hunting, though young barracudas tend to gather in large schools, sometimes in hundreds or even thousands. Schooling offers the young fish protection from predators on the basis of safety in numbers.
7. Often, when a predator attacks a school, the school will form a confusing ‘tornado’, preventing any one barracuda being fixed upon as prey in the eyes of the predator.
For original article, see https://www.thebermudian.com/home-a-garden/nature/bermuda-beasts-barracuda/
[Photo of barracuda by A. Corbis.]