Final-The Barracuda--Part 2

This discussion topic submitted by Alex Covert (covertsa@miamioh.edu) on 7/10/98.

Iíll start off by saying that I love fish. So naturally, I wanted to do research on a ìfish
topic that would increase my knowledge in that area, while educating and entertaining my
fellow classmates. I chose barracudas for the simple reason that this fish is so darn
intimidating and mysterious. Upon meeting the class in Ft. Lauderdale, I found that another
student had selected barracudas as well. Although a simple mistake, in the future, I suggest
that students select and post their research topics on the web well in advance. The two of us,
the barracuda boys, split the presentation material. Hereís what I talked about:

Biogeography
1.) Range: -found in most tropical/subtropical waters worldwide
-most are in Western Atlantic from Florida to Venezuela
-solitary barracudas are not found in Eastern Pacific
-isolated by cold currents from Southern ocean

2.) 3 kinds found in the Bahamas
1.) Great barracuda
2.) Guaguanche/ 2 feet, silver w/ yellow stripes
3.) Southern Sennet/ 18 inches, schools, silver w/no marks

3.) Migrations: -sensitive to temperature (likes between 74 F and 82 F)
-move North in Spring and South in Fall
-can regulate body temp. by swimming in deep or shallow waters

4.) Habitat: -Young stay close to shore and on the top with debris and grass
-Adults like reefs (may inhabit same reef for years)
-Halo zone: hang out in sandy area between grassbeds and reefs
-In general, live mostly over shallow waters near islands and reefs
-Note, however, that this is where most people are and thus
see them the most

Social Behavior
-known as ìlone wolvesî/ usually solitary
-can and do travel in schools of hundreds to thousands
-reasons or benefits?
1.)feeding: quicker, earlier and more frequent detection
2.)protection: dolphins and tuna prey on barracuda
3.)spawning: little is known

Compared to sharks
-share the same habitats, but are rarely seen together
-separate dominance/Bahamas-barracuda are the top predators
Western Pacific-reef sharks take their place
-by comparing barracuda to sharks, it lets one know the strength and power of
barracudas

Attacks
Charles de Rochefort(1667) French Natural Historian
says, ìbarracuda craved human flesh and were equipped with a poisonous
bite.î

DeSylva(1963) Scientist
-lists 29 barracuda attacks
-most were lacerations, but a few resulted in death

Examples:
-victims calf muscle torn off
-victims hands torn off
-diver was rushed 4 times and bitten twice, wounds to knee and wrist, 31
stitches
-swimmer bit 3 times on arm, later amputated
-girl in inner-tube with feet dangling in water had feet bitten off
-1993, Nadine Chloer bit, media had field day, fish grew from 5 feet to 8 ft

Take Home Page points:
-barracuda are curious and will approach you
-donít make jerky rapid movements
-donít wear shiny objects while in the water such as rings and watches
(I wore both and was approached numerous times)
-barracuda like the color yellow (I had yellow fins)
-donít pull their tail
-a lot of times, attacks happen in low visibility waters
-the fish misidentifies his lunch
-DONíT let this scare you, in actuality, about the only way you can get hurt from
barracuda is by eating them and getting cigutuera poisoning, but then
again, there is always a chance....

Sources:

Adler, Dr. Helmut E. fish Behaivor: Why do fishes do What They do. T.F.H. Publications
1975.

Bohlke, James E. and Charles C. G. Chaplin. fishes of the Bahamas and Adjacent
Tropical Waters. University of Texas Press, Austin. 1968.

http://www.miamisci.org/oceans/coralreef/predators/3barracuda.html

http://www.barracuda.ml.org/barracuda/cuda.html

other field identification books at the Bahamian Field Station



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