Odd-Shaped Swimmers

Fish that are considered “odd-shaped swimmers” have a tendency to be quite slow and awkward which should naturally present them as easy prey. However, their distinctive defenses help compensate for their slow locomotion. A favorite among divers and hobbyists alike, the pufferfish  is full of personality and charm. They have excellent eyesight and powerful jaws for crushing shells in order to feed on mollusks and smaller invertebrates. The pufferfish moves by combining efforts of its pectoral, dorsal, and caudal fins. While they are slow moving, they maneuver quite well and use the caudal fin for a sudden burst of speed if a quick escape is needed. If they are unable to flee they will draw large quantities of water into their elastic stomachs, ballooning up to several times their normal size. All puffers have pointed spines so the predator may find itself choking on the inflated fish rather than swallowing it. This species also has neurotoxin and tetrodotoxin in the ovaries and liver that can have a lethal effect if consumed. Two popular dishes in Asian Cuisine, puffer soup, and raw puffer meat often cause intoxication, light-headedness, and numbness of the lips and is often eaten for these reasons. However, if these dishes are improperly prepared they can cause death.

Boxfish, including trunkfish and cowfish are notable for the hexagonal or “honeycomb” patterns in their skin. Their plate-like scales are quite heavy and as a result the fish is slow moving. They have adapted to these obstacles by using their pectoral fins in a rowing manner for movement. While their slow nature should make them an easy prey item, few fish are able to consume them. Many boxfish secrete poisons through their skin when threatened, fouling the surrounding water and protecting them from predation.

Puffer fish in the ocean

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