Many people around the country have no ideal about the rich diversity of wildlife inhabiting the Gulf of Mexico waters. The Gulf Basin is so large that it is like an ocean, which explains its unexpected variety of species. Its is the ninth largest body of water on planet earth at 617,800 sq miles and up to 14,383 feet deep. This “Gulf of Mexico Wildlife Series: Pufferfish” will be covering the Puffer and many other species, along with their locations to Gulf coastal communities.
The first in the series of unusual inhabitants is the distinguished Pufferfish. Most do not realize the species even resides in the Gulf waters. Its unusual looks come from its ability to inflate itself when it feels threatened. It literally blows itself up like a balloon. It is located mainly in the South and Eastern Gulf of Mexico. It can be found in coastal shallow waters, such as bays and estuaries, near bridges, pilings and piers. Some may be found at depths up to 60 feet, in offshore waters. Its broad blunt head with oversize eyes tapers down toward the tail and it has prickly spikes on its brown skin with black to grey spots. The male Puffer’s are usually covered in reddish-orange spots during spawning season. These fish tend to be solitary creatures but will hangout together, on occasion, at favorite hotspots, such as a good cover of pilings or a bridge.
Don’t ever try to feed on one of these little guys. According to Wikipedia “Pufferfish are generally believed to be the second-most poisonous vertebrate in the world, just after the golden poison frog. Certain internal organs, such as liver, and sometimes the skin, contain tetrodotoxin and are highly toxic to most animals when eaten; nevertheless, the meat of some species is considered a delicacy in places like Japan when prepared by specially trained chefs, who know which part is safe to eat and in what quantity. This fish is just one of the many fascinating creatures out in the Gulf of Mexico making Saltwater fishing an adventure, to say the least.