Posted on September 21st, 2016
It was another drab, dreary day on DelMarVa today, but the wind wasn’t too bad so a couple of boats were able to get out and do some fishing. The Judith M with Captain John Bunting caught some sea bass, some bluefish and one fish that we don’t see very often out of Ocean City…..a Lagocephalus Laevigatus, or smooth pufferfish.
The smooth puffer is included in a family of about 120 pufferfish worldwide that all share the ability to ingest and hold large amounts of water or air to dramatically increase their body size. This causes the puffer to “inflate” into a larger ball-shape and become less appealing to a would-be attacker.
Most pufferfish live in tropical and sub-tropical waters and are rare in temperate zones like the Mid-Atlantic. It’s not surprising that Captain Don said that Captain John Bunting, who has fished Ocean City his entire life, has never seen or caught one.
Pufferfish are believed to be one of the most poisonous vertebrates in the world, and the smooth puffer that was caught by the Judith M today is a very toxic fish. Some of the internal organs of a puffer contain a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin which is deadly to humans. Tetrodotoxin is 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide and one pufferfish holds enough toxin to kill 30 people……and there is no known antidote. Folks who eat pufferfish that hasn’t been cleaned properly can experience anything from temporary numbness in the tongue and lips to headache and speech impairment. A case of acute poisoning can lead to death in just a few hours.
So why run the risk of becoming sick or even dying from ingesting fish? Well, apparently the meat is absolutely delicious…..I’ll never know.
Bear from the Oceanic Pier submitted a photo of John who caught another nice keeper rockfish from the north sea wall on a Zoom bait.