After the lionfish and other animals from warm and tropical climes, the next invasive species in the Mediterranean is making headlines: the pufferfish is apparently spreading in the Aria. This is reported by several international media.

At the beginning of last week, a fisherman from Croatia caught several specimens of a species of puffer fish (Lagocephalus sceleratus) in his net, it is said. The man was traveling off the island of Ceja. The nearby Pula Aquarium announced on Facebook that a total of seven individuals had been observed in the Bay of Medulin, and one was caught and collected at a depth of 19 meters.

Specifically, the specimens discovered in the Adriatic are said to be harehead pufferfish. In the Pula Aquarium’s post they are called silver-lined pufferfish. The species migrates from the Red Sea into the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal, it goes on to say. There have long been reports from Turkey and Greece about these unpleasant animal immigrants, who have no predators in the Mediterranean and apparently feel quite comfortable in their new home due to rising water temperatures.¬†

However, they are not welcome in Mediterranean waters. They are considered a threat to the local fauna and are not suitable as food fish. Puffer fish contain a very strong poison, tetrodotoxin, explain the scientists at the Pula Aquarium on Facebook. “Tetrodotoxin is most concentrated in the gonads and liver, but also occurs on the skin. It is believed that a dose of 1 to 2 mg is fatal,” warn the marine experts.

It is generally advised not to touch pufferfish. And especially don’t eat it, it can be fatal and is therefore forbidden in some countries. However, there are repeated reports of people dying from improperly prepared pufferfish – even in Asia, where these fish are sometimes considered a delicacy and are specially processed to remove the poison.

Pufferfish are said to be harmless to swimmers, especially because the animals are considered very shy. At least that’s what various media reports. In most cases, anyone who swims near a pufferfish won’t notice this – the sea creatures, which are around 40 centimeters long, are usually not as fluffy as you see them in comics. They only inflate themselves when there is immediate danger and otherwise swim through the water rather inconspicuously and therefore incognito.

But if you want to know exactly, you should pay attention to “fish with an angular snout, conspicuous incisors and a silver stripe on the lower body,” as the “Hessische/Nieders√§chsische Allgemeine” (“HNA”) summarizes the appearance of the tropical animals. In the water, where visibility is poorer due to weaker lighting conditions, most snorkelers are unlikely to be able to identify such a fish.

Fishermen generally have a bad attitude towards the new inhabitants of the Mediterranean. Because with their sharp teeth, pufferfish bite through nets to get to the catch. They also sometimes literally eat the prey off anglers’ hooks, according to the “HNA”.

There are around 200 species of puffer fish worldwide; they actually occur in tropical waters, but are now also spreading into more northern regions. The gateway to the Mediterranean is the Suez Canal, through which other animal species have also migrated, such as the lionfish. This is now native to many places in the Mediterranean. Unlike the pufferfish, however, this newcomer is easily recognizable by its striking red color and distinctive shape.

Sources: Aquarium Pula on Facebook, “HNA”, “Travelbook”, “Spektrum.de”

See in the photo series: They crawl en masse across streets or live as lodgers in attics: Many animal species live in Germany that originally come from other regions of the world. An overview.