Family: TETRAODONTIDAE (Puffers)
This puffer occurs in two color phases: black with white spots, and golden yellow. The two sets of common names refer to these different appearances. They are up to 48 cm (nearly 19 inches) in length.
Range and Habitat
Range: Gulf of California to Ecuador, including offshore islands, also widespread in tropical Indo-Pacific seas.
Habitat: Pufferfishes are found around shallow coral and rocky reefs. In the Gulf of California they are diurnal feeders that graze on turf-covered rocks or coral and may feed on other encrusting organisms.
When threatened, puffers can inflate their body by swallowing water to increase their body volume as a deterrent to predators. In addition, puffers produce tetraodontoxin in their skin, liver, and gonads. Some puffers are considered a great delicacy, especially in Japanbut if not prepared by properly trained cooks, eating them can cause serious illness, or death.
Text by Patricia Beller
Photograph © 2000 Gini Kellogg
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