Puffer Fish

Puffer Fish in Montezuma

Puffer fish in the Montezuma area are also called ‘blowfish’. They get this name because of their ability to ‘puff’ or ‘blow up’ their bodies to a medium sized football which is covered in thin sharp spines. Scientists have offered an explanation for the puffer fish’s many natural defenses. According to research, it is believed that puffer fish possess so much natural armor because otherwise they make for very easy prey for the predators in the ocean. Puffer fish generally move very slowly through the waters of Montezuma and Tortuga Islands. This can make them very susceptible to other bigger fish in the sea which may threaten the puffer fish. To save themselves from all these other predators, the puffer fish blow themselves up or puff up their bodies. That results in hundreds of thin and long spine like needles ejecting from their skin which can cause serious harm to most of their predators.

Smooth puffer fish found in Tortuga

Smooth puffer fish, found at Tortuga Island. Photo by Jenn.

Some Puffer fish are also toxic. The toxin may exist only in their liver or sometimes even on their skin. This is lethal to almost all humans and most fish in the sea except for very large predators like sharks or whales. Puffer fish may sometimes move in a burst of speed that is completely uncharacteristic of their usual slow and lazy movements in the water of the ocean. The puffer fish has exceptionally strong eyesight and these unpredictable bursts of speed can also help it in escaping from the enemy’s clutches. An interesting fact about the puffer fish is that it blows itself up with the water of the sea or ocean which gives it its name. But it can also fill its body up with air when it is outside the water body. That increases it’s overall sizes and makes it look bigger and more threatening than it looks usually. When the puffer fish is not puffed up, the spines in its body are not visible to the eye so it may look like a harmless and slow fish to predators. But when blown up to its full size, it can look like a scary and very lethal fish which cannot be easily overpowered. If the predators do catch hold of the puffer fish and it blows up after being caught, the catcher may die due to choking on the thin and long spines protruding from all over its body. If not that, then the toxins in the skin and liver can instantly kill most creatures in the sea.

Even among the types of puffer fish, the level of toxins can change from type to type. There are also some types of puffer fish that do not possess any poison at all but the spines on their body are that much sharper. Lizardfish and tiger sharks are two predators that can easily ingest the puffer fish without suffering severe repercussion due to the consumption of its meat. A fun fact about the puffer fish is that off the Montezuma area, some people have been changing the diet of the puffer fish and thus making their bodies born free and clear of any kind of poison.

Video for Puffer Fish


Gordon, M.S., Plaut, I., and D. Kim. 1996. How puffers (Teleostei: Tetraodontidae) swim. Journal of Fish Biology 49: 319–328.

Plaut, I. and T. Chen. 2003. How small puffers (Teleostei: Tetraodontidae) swim. Ichthyological Research

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