Featuring the Great Barracuda
Row after row of silvery armor like scales, a mouth full of 2 inch long teeth, and the ability to travel up to 35 miles per hour through one of planet earths most dense mediums, all make the great barracuda one of our oceans most fearsome predators. Despite their threatening presence, barracuda rarely attack humans. And once you get past their intimidating appearance, much can be learned about these amazing creatures.
It has been my experience in many years of working as a diving professional that divers and snorkelers are afraid of these fish for two beliefs. The first is that barracuda often follow divers and snorkelers closely. The second is they attack anything shiny; i.e. your 15 year old sons very hip and somewhat flashy lip ring.
While both carry some truth, let’s discuss why you should be concerned with neither.
Barracudas often follow divers and snorkelers:
This part happens to be very true. Barracuda are not only hunters, they are also scavengers. For this reason they often mistake snorkelers or divers for large predators, following them hoping to eat the remains of their prey. Barracudas are relatively passive toward humans and will often allow divers a close approach before turning and swimming away. This behavior is great for underwater photographers. Bringing the subject closer to your camera will usually result in a better image. It’s also a cool way to show your friends just how brave you really are!
Barracudas attack shiny objects:
This one is a little ridiculous. Barracuda eat fish, not ear rings. Because they are sight-oriented predators, great barracuda locate their prey visually.
This myth comes from the fact that barracuda feed on some species of silvery fish that can be seen glistening in the distance, resembling someones jewelry. Not to worry, mother nature equipped one of it’s most efficient hunters with the ability to tell the difference from your Rolex and a tasty fish.
While there have been recorded attacks on divers, the overwhelming majority were during activities that included spear fishing. Getting between your catch and a 35 mile per hour aquatic dart covered in razor sharp teeth might not be the best idea you’ve ever had. Like everything else in life, a little common sense goes a long way. Your fear of diving or snorkeling with barracuda should easily be outweighed by the sheer joy of being in the presence of one of mother natures most adept hunters.
The video below features our toothy friend overseeing his kingdom, the Ex USS Kittiwake.