Sailor-fishermen beware! This fish is deadly!


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Those who are not only fond of sailing, but also fond of fishing, should open their eyes wide and pay close attention to the photograph of this fish, Lagocephalus sceleratus (scientific name of the silver pufferfish), which has been invading the Mediterranean in recent times.

l.s.Be careful, because its meat, if eaten (even cooked) can have deadly effects. According to the
Oceanus Research Group
this fish “ranks among the worst invasive species in the Mediterranean Sea, with a significant impact on the surrounding ecosystem and the fishing industry. Lagocephalus sceleratus is considered a serious risk to consumers; it contains a strong toxin called tetrodotoxin (TTX) , which can be lethal to humans. The effect of this toxin, lingers even after the food is cooked, and tetrodotoxin poisoning is highly risky: it can lead to particularly serious health consequences, up to and including death, which can occur within hours of ingestion.”
It is an alien species in our Mediterranean Sea: it comes from the Indo-Pacific Ocean and seems to have reached our shores through the Suez Canal According to this research group, the presence of Lagocephalus sceleratus is to be considered certain in the waters of the Greece (Dodecanese, Crete and Cyclades),Cyprus, Israel. In Italy, too, there have been some reports in the port of Palinuro (Salerno), Monopoli and Capo Peloro (Messina).

10270517_10152449391177722_4832660919319960192_nTHE CHARACTERISTICS OF LAGOCEPHALUS SCELERATUS
The valuable work of the Oceanus Research Group provided a detailed description of this animal:“It has an oblong, fusiform body, covered with smooth skin without plates or scuds, but equipped with short spines arranged in longitudinal series in the ventral region, which is swollen and pleated in resting attitude. The lateral line is marked and divided into branches surrounding the orbit and transverse branches, which either join the lateral line or thin out toward the ventral area. The robust head has medium-sized round eyes and tiny nasal openings. The mouth is small and the teeth are combined into two upper and two lower dental plates. May ingest water or air. It has a single dorsal fin that is very far back and has 13-16 rays. The anal is symmetrical to the dorsal and has 11-13 rays. The caudal (15 rays) has a hollow posterior margin and the lower lobe longer than the posterior one. The pectorals are somewhat robust and have 14-16 rays. Ventrals are absent. Body color is slate or bluish gray on the back, milky white in the belly. Juvenile specimens have scattered black speckles in the thorny area. It is a pelagic species that in its juvenile stage is stationed near river estuaries and as an adult prefers tropical or warm waters, at depths between 10 and 100 m, but can descend even beyond 450m. Mostly it moves by currents. If threatened, it swells by ingesting air or water, which it retains by contracting the sphincters of the pylorus and esophagus and in such a way that the stomach swells until it takes on a ball-like conformation. It feeds on both detritus and animal organisms (crustaceans and mollusks). It reaches 60 cm in total length.”



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