Eat a Pufferfish and Die!

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No, I’m not putting a curse on you. Many readers will already be aware that the pufferfishes, among several other varieties of fish, are extremely poisonous when eaten by humans. This is because their bodies contain a deadly poison called tetrodotoxin. There are several dive sites around Madang at which you can usually find a large Fugu,  as they are called in Japan. This one is a Star Pufferfish (Arothron stellatus)  and its name is Elmer Fudd:

Star Pufferfish (Arothron stellatus)
I thought that you might enjoy meeting it. The idea of anything other than a cartoon character being so homely is simply too much to bear.

The Japanese eat these things. Since 1958 one must have a special license to prepare Fugu  for consumption. Apparently, the final exam for potential Fugu  chefs is to eat some of their own dish. If they survive, they pass.

Elmer will demonstrate patience for about thirty seconds, giving the photographer enough time for one or two shots such as the one above. When Elmer has had enough, he’ll turn around, scraping his belly on the sand:Star Pufferfish (Arothron stellatus)

And lumber away in a huff:

Star Pufferfish (Arothron stellatus)

Bye-bye Elmer.

Here is a fish that you’ve seen here before. It’s the Reef Lizardfish (Synodus variegatus):Reef Lizardfish (Synodus variegatus)Tomorrow we’ll be looking at some of the yummy coral at this spot on the South end of Leper Island.  For now, just savor the superb camoflage of this critter.

We’ll finish up with something decidedly non-fishy, a Tubeworm (Sabellastarte sanctijosephi):Tubeworm (Sabellastarte sanctijosephi)It’s worth clicking this shot to enlarge it. I had seen tubeworms for many years before I examined one closely and discovered the conplex organs in the centre. I’m not sure what it all does, but a tubeworm certainly could pass for an extraterrestrial organism.

Aliens in my front yard! Eeeek!

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7 Responses to “Eat a Pufferfish and Die!”

  1. Steve Goodheart Says:

    That Pufferfish has quite a set of teeth…is it a coral eater? Looks like it could chew on rock!

    Lizardfish and tubeworms–man, you know how to make a guy happy, MadDog! (That inner structure in the tubeworm is indeed interesting…dont’ think I’ve seen that before.)

  2. Fortescue Bullrout Says:

    I am really enjoying your photography and reading about life in Madang. Any shots of cowries would be appreciated.

  3. MadDog Says:

    Thanks for reading, Fortescue. If you put ‘cowrie’ in the search box in the sidebar you will find three posts with images and text about different cowries.

  4. MadDog Says:

    At it indicates that their diet is molluscs, benthic crustaceans and echinoderms.

    That would explain the big, strong choppers.

  5. Fortescue Bullrout Says:

    Thanks, MadDog. I collected cowries as a kid, but stopped when I realised what I was doing. These days there is excellent photography of the living animals, such as yours- much easier on the conscience, and the mantle is as pretty as the shell anyway.
    You do the gorgeous nudibranch justice, too.
    Do you have map cowries? A particular favorite.

  6. MadDog Says:

    I never collect live specimens of any kind and I stopped buying empty shells at the market many years ago. I know that it doesn’t slow down the collection of live specimens, but at least I am not contributing to the degrading of the reefs. I’m lucky enough to be able to observe and photograph without damaging.

    I have to admit that my favourite cowrie is not very exciting. It’s the common Tiger Cowrie. Yes, we do have Map Cowries here. I have several in my collection. It’s also one of my favorites.

  7. Steve Goodheart Says:

    Thanks for the info on the pufferfish…and wow, what a GREAT fish reference site that FishBase is! Wow! Into the tool bag with that one!