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The barracuda is a ray-finned fish known for its large size and fearsome appeara

nce. Its body is long, fairly compressed, and covered with small, smooth scales.
Some species can reach up to 2.1 m (6.9 ft) in length and 30 cm (12 in) in widt
h.[2][3] The barracuda is a saltwater fish of the genus Sphyraena, the only genu
s in the family Sphyraenidae, and is found in tropical and subtropical oceans wo
rldwide ranging from the Eastern border of the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and
Caribbean Sea. They are found near the top of the water and near coral reefs an
d sea grasses.[4]
Barracudas are snake-like in appearance, with prominent, sharp-edged, fang-like
teeth, much like piranhas, all of different sizes, set in sockets of their large
jaws. They have large, pointed heads with an underbite in many species. Their g
ill covers have no spines and are covered with small scales. Their two dorsal fi
ns are widely separated, with the anterior fin having five spines, and the poste
rior fin having one spine and 9 soft rays. The posterior dorsal fin is similar i
n size to the anal fin and is situated above it. The lateral line is prominent a
nd extends straight from head to tail. The spinous dorsal fin is placed above th
e pelvic fins and is normally retracted in a groove. The caudal fin is moderatel
y forked with its posterior edged double-curved and is set at the end of a stout
peduncle. The pectoral fins are placed low on the sides. Its swim bladder is la
rge.
In most cases, a barracuda is dark blue, dark green, or gray on its upper body,
with silvery sides and a chalky-white belly. Coloration varies somewhat between
species. For some species, irregular black spots or a row of darker cross-bars o
ccur on each side. Their fins may be yellowish or dusky. Barracudas live primari
ly in oceans, but certain species, such as the great barracuda, live in brackish
water.
Some species grow quite large, such as the European barracuda, barracouta, or sp
et (S. sphyraena), found in the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic; the grea
t barracuda, picuda or becuna (S. picuda), ranging on the Atlantic coast of trop
ical America from North Carolina to Brazil and reaching Bermuda. Other barracuda
species are found around the world. Examples are the California barracuda (S. a
rgentea), found from Puget Sound southwards to Cabo San Lucas, the Indian barrac
uda (S. jello), and the black-finned or Commerson's barracuda (S. commersoni), f
rom the seas of India and the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago.
Barracudas are ferocious, opportunistic predators, relying on surprise and short
bursts of speed (up to 27 mph (43 km/h))[5] to overtake their prey.
Adults of most species are more or less solitary, while young and half-grown fis
h frequently congregate. Barracudas prey primarily on fish (which may include so
me as large as themselves). They kill and consume larger prey by tearing chunks
of flesh. Barracuda are competitive species and often are seen competing against
mackerel, needle fish and sometimes even dolphins for prey.[4]
It is known that Barracuda feed on an array of prey including fish such as jacks
, grunts, groupers, snappers, small tunas, mullets, killifishes, herrings, and a
nchovies by simply biting them in half.[6] They also seem to consume smaller spe
cies of sustenance that are in front of them.
Interactions with humans[edit]
Like sharks, some species of barracuda are reputed to be dangerous to swimmers.
Barracudas are scavengers, and may mistake snorkellers for large predators, foll
owing them hoping to eat the remains of their prey. Swimmers have reported being
bitten by barracuda, but such incidents are rare and possibly caused by poor vi
sibility. Large barracudas can be encountered in muddy shallows on rare occasion
. Barracudas may mistake things that glint and shine for prey.[7] One incident r
eported a barracuda jumping out of water and injuring a kayaker,[8] but Jason Sc
hratwieser, conservation director of the International Game Fish Association, sa
id that the wound could have been caused by a houndfish.[9]
Handfeeding or touching large barracudas in general is to be avoided. Spearfishi
ng around barracudas can also be dangerous, as they are quite capable of ripping
a chunk from a wounded fish thrashing on a spear.
As food[edit]
Barracudas are popular both as food and game fish. They are most often eaten as

fillets or steaks. Larger species, such as the great barracuda, have been implic
ated in cases of ciguatera food poisoning.[10] Those who have been diagnosed wit
h this type of food poisoning display symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort, l
imb weakness, and an inability to differentiate hot from cold effectively.[6]
West Africans smoke them for use in soups and sauces. Smoking protects the soft
flesh from disintegrating in the broth and gives them a smoky flavor.