Pufferfish space a usual sight here in Quepos; i don’t think I have actually yet to be diving here without see at least one, and usually several. There room two typically encountered puffers here: the Guneafowl Pufferfish (Arothron meleagris) and the Porcupine Pufferfish, of which there space two types occurring locally – the Longspined Porcupinefish (Diodon holocanthus) and also the Spot-fin Porcupinefish (Diodon hystrix).

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Guineafowl Pufferfish, black color Morph


Guineafowl Pufferfish, Yellow Morph

The Guineafowl Pufferfish has two different shade morphs, i m sorry may take place at different life stages, though we don’t know when or why the color change occurs. One is a purple-black with white spots, if the various other is a bright yellow, often with black spots (the fish is also known as the gold Pufferfish). There is likewise a transitional stage, where the fish may have actually patches of yellow alternating with white-spotted black.

Pufferfish are called for their ability to broaden their stomachs, swallowing vast amounts that water (or sometimes air) really quickly, resulting in their body to inflate to many times their normal dimension as a defense versus predators. Most varieties also have spines. Those of many puffers are covert until castle inflate, while the porcupinefish have outside spines the are constantly visible. Either way, once the fish inflates, it turns itself into a spiky and also unappetizing ball that is not easily swallowed by a predator.


Guineafowl Pufferfish, Inflated

In enhancement to this ability, many species of pufferfish carry tetrodotoxin, one of the many deadly toxins discovered in a vertebrate. This toxin is 1200 times more deadly to humans than cyanide. The quantity of toxin found in a fish different by species, but in some cases a single fish carries enough to death 30 adult humans. The toxin is created by bacteria the live in the gut and are discovered in several of the foods the pufferfish eats; a puffer increased in an aquarium will absence the toxin. The toxin is found in the fish’s liver, intestines and ovaries, and also in some instances in the skin.

Note that this is a toxin, no a venom, definition that the fish does no inject poison v its spines or by biting but that the fish is very poisonous if ingested. When the toxin does no reside in the flesh itself, contamination by also a tiny amount native the organs or skin may prove deadly. Despite this (or perhaps due to the fact that of it), pufferfish is considered a delicacy in Japan, where it is recognized as fugu. Effectively prepared, the is said to cause some numbness that the lips and also tongue, and also perhaps a feeling of euphoria. Although regulations vary throughout Japan, in some places chefs have to train for 2 to three years and pass a rigorous exam in order to have the ability to prepare and serve fugu.

Even with the laws concerning the preparation and also serving of fugu, civilization do periodically die from eating it. However death is not the only feasible result: fugu can reason a selection of uncomfortable symptoms, and also in just the ideal dosage it can cause a paralytic state that resembles death. In this state, the victim’s pulse and also respiration room slowed, the pupils room fixed and dilated, and also consciousness may be altered. This state may lead to death or permanent brain damage because of hypoxia.

There are many old account in Japan of civilization being claimed dead while in this state. The story speak of world retaining consciousness throughout the experience and also hearing us being asserted dead and also their loved ones weeping. In some cases, account say the the human being came out of the paralysis in the morgue, throughout their funeral, or top top the means to be buried or cremated. Once someone dies of fugu poisoning, that is therefore customary because that the family members to wait a couple of days before burial or cremation in case the human being wakes up.


Porcupine Pufferfish

Additionally, the toxin has actually been implicated by walking Davis, one ethnobotanist v a phd from Harvard, in the development of zombies by bokors (witch doctors) in Haiti. In his 1983 book The Serpent and also the Rainbow, he describes the process by which a human may it is in rendered apparently dead by a powder consisting of pufferfish and also other toxicity ingredients, buried alive, then dug up and ‘resurrected’ by the bokor and also fed a steady diet the Datura stramonium, one hallucinogenic plant well-known in Haiti as ‘zombie cucumber’ that can induce a state of psychosis. This process, along with existing ideas in Haiti around zombies, enables the bokor to enslave and control human being for his very own profit.

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There has been much controversy among scientists around Davis’s methods and also conclusions. Nevertheless, his summary of just how tetrodotoxin is used in this procedure would absolutely seem to lie in ~ the realm of possibility, and should no be dismissed the end of hand.

It likewise seems that humans are no the only pets to exploit this tetrodotoxin, or to gain its effects. Dolphins have actually been observed gently chewing on and passing roughly pufferfish and appear to come to be intoxicated by act so. In this video, they are seen doing precisely that. If there have actually been no research studies demonstrating the an exact effects of tetrodotoxin on the dolphin brain, they carry out seem to be enjoy it themselves!