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Twenty species of barracuda are found in deep water in the Mediterranean, western Atlantic, and tropical waters. They are also known both as sea pike (because they are related to freshwater pike) and tigers of the sea (because of their swift attack on prey).
The barracuda is long and slender, with two dorsal fins set well apart. Its body is silver, with darker specks and dark gray-blue stripes down the sides. The tail fin is broad and very strong. The most noticeable feature of the barracuda is its bottom jaw, which protrudes beyond the upper jaw. This shows off both sets of teeth: one row of small razor-like teeth around the outside of its mouth, and a larger set of tearing teeth just inside.
Barracuda are very good hunters, hunting and swimming in small schools. They attack quickly and grab prey with their powerful jaws and sharp teeth. Their eyesight is excellent, even in the muddiest water. The larger barracuda are solitary and may hunt on their own.
The female barracuda lays 5,000–300,000 eggs in the surface waters far offshore. The newly hatched fish begin to hunt immediately. Their food varies with their habitat, but they will eat almost any fish.
Barracuda are popular sport fish because of their powerful runs and leaps. However, they can be poisonous because of the toxins they absorb from their food. Barracuda have also been known to attack fishermen and divers.
Perciformes • Sphyraenidae • Sphyraena
Length: Up to 6 feet (1.8 m)
Weight: Up to 100 pounds (45.4 kg)
Life span: 10–15 years
Special Design Feature: Barracuda have very acute eyesight even in the darkest, muddiest water.
Did you know? Years ago, there were reported sightings of barracuda that were 15 feet (4.6 m) long.