SPAIN - The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Food and Natural Environment (DAAM) has confirmed the presence of puffer fish on the Catalan coast.
Throughout the year, there have been 10 capture notices of this species, one in Blanes, one in Montgat, two in Vilanova i la Geltrú, two in Cambrils, one in Hospitalet de l'Infant, two in L'Ametlla de Mar and one in Coma-ruga.
The Ministry first received news of this species being captured on the Catalan coastline in the year 2009 in Sant Carles de la Ràpita.
From 2009 to 2013, the Ministry received capture notifications for five more puffer fish (2011: one in L'Hospitalet de l'Infant, 2012: one in L'Ametlla de Mar, one in Cambrils and one in Blanes; 2013: one in Palamós).
The puffer fish belong to the Tetraodontidae family, a pelagic species that is found in open waters and normally lives at a depth of 10 to 100 meters, though they can be found at depths of nearly 500 meters.
They are a blue-greyish, brown or greenish colour on their backs and white on their bellies. The stomach is covered with lots of small spikes, and they inflate it when they feel in danger, so they take the appearance of a bristly puffer fish on their lower part. It has no visible scales.
According to the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, this species has entered the Eastern Mediterranean via the Suez canal, and has established itself and reproduced to the point where it is even affecting local populations of other fish and fishing operations.
This species is poisonous, as it contains Tetrododixne, a toxin that paralyses the nervous system. As such, it is dangerous if consumed. In fact, on our coasts there have been sightings of two species from this family, the Lagocephalus lagocephalus and the Sphoeroides pachygaster, both are venomous and should not be consumed.
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