Spot-fin Porcupinefish

Photo courtesy from Flickr

Spot-fin Porcupinefish (Diodon hystrix)

Other Name: Black-spotted Porcupinefish
Max. Length: 91 centimeters
Length at 1st Maturity: 49.3 centimeters
a value: 0.53200
b value: 2.276
Depth Range: 2 – 50 meters (6 – 150 feet)
Frequency: Abundant in the world’s tropical coral reefs

Photo courtesy from Fishes of Australia

In a normal situation where it is not bloated, this medium-sized porcupinefish possess one of the cutest smiles as compared to other reef inhabitants in Cocos Island. But actually, they are not smiling at you. This so-called illusion is made possible through its spherical head with big round protruding eyes and a beaked mouth that is usually open.

As there are other species of porcupinefish present in Cocos Island, you can still easily identify a spot-fin porcupinefish through its beige to sandy-yellow marble colored body that is filled with several small dark spots. Now, here’s the irony of this type of porcupinefish: If only you are allowed to touch a spot-fin porcupinefish, you will be amazed that their skin is relatively smooth despite the presence of spikes or thorns.

Smiles that Fade Away when bloated

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When you go diving in Cocos island, you can often see a spot-fin porcupinefish near the rocky reef areas. During its normal state, most of the divers appreciate the cute smile of a spot-fin porcupinefish as they consider it their own gesture of welcoming you underwater.

But if you want to prolong your appreciation with their smile, then do not go near or touch them. Doing so will provoke them and will immediately shift from normal to a bloated state.

When a spot-fin porcupinefish is provoked, they will take in huge amounts of water where the bloating of its stomach is the effect of excessive water intake. Simultaneous with the expansion of the stomach, their body spines will start to erect and protrude giving the animal a spiky circular barrier against predators.

Host to Parasites and Toxins

On the other side of that cute smile is not just spiky thorns but also something that you cannot see. Inside the body of a spot-fin porcupinefish is an infectious concoction composed mainly of parasites where you can find the greatest number in their liver. While this is considered non-appetizing, this poses no threat to humans when accidentally consumed. But what you should be highly aware is that their body houses a powerful nuerotoxin that when you consume a piece of their meat can possibly lead to death. And we are serious about this as numerous reports of tasting their meat out of curiosity has ended their life six feet below the ground. With this, we are appealing to you to be satisfied with the information gained from reading this article and not to further arouse your interest on this highly lethal fish.

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IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species:

Encyclopedia of Life:

Video courtesy from tomb0171

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