Wild Things: Puffer Fish
These fish got their name because when puffer fish become alarmed they puff themselves up with air or water. They are also a delicacy in Japan even though people have died from eating them.
Some puffer fish look a little bit like a beagle dog without the ears. Don't let looks fool you. Their four large teeth - two on top, two on the bottom - are sharp enough to sever a finger. Several species also have spikes sticking out of their skin. When it becomes alarmed, a puffer fish puffs itself up with water or air and makes a squeaky noise.
There are about 120 species of puffer fish or blowfish, globefish and fugu as they are also called. They grow up to 50 cm (20 in) long. They can puff themselves up because they have elastic skin and no ribs. Puffer fish live in the tropical and subtropical parts of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. They blend in with coral and prefer to stay near the bottom of the ocean where they can feed on molluscs and crustaceans.
Sharks tend to eat puffer fish and so do humans. Eating fish isn't unusual except puffer fish are fatally poisonous. In Japan they are a delicacy after the poison has been removed but eating them can still be fatal. About 100 diners die each year after eating puffer fish.
On April 23, 1996 a 23 year-old man ate a piece of puffer fish about the size of a quarter. Ten to 15 minutes later he felt tingling in his mouth and lips, followed by dizziness, fatigue, headache, difficulty speaking, tightness in his upper chest, shaking, nausea and vomiting. He collapsed and was rushed to the hospital.
Even though they are poisonous, puffer fish are popular aquarium fish all over the world. They can be tame but shouldn't be hand fed because of their sharp teeth. Puffer fish owners usually try and make their fish puff up when friends come over. This is very stressful for the animal and shouldn't be overdone.
I've found two animals that I don't know what they are. One looked like a cross between a bee and a dart. It was flying by the flowers, had a long point to suck from the flowers, black and yellow bands, and a tuft at the end that also was black and yellow. It looked like a dart with insect wings. Someone mentioned that they thought I was describing a humming bird. But it doesn't look like that. It's smaller. Like I said, it looks like a bee, except for the long pointy nose and no stinger. I saw it in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
I also found something that looked like an elephants tusk but real small, about an inch or so long, and straight. It had some tenticles coming out the wide end and was digging through the sand on the beach where I had dug a hole. It came out one side of the hole when straight, moving its little tenticles, and then went through the wall on the other side. It looked like one of those extinct sea creatures in a book that I saw, but real small like about an inch long.
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Is there an animal you've had an encounter with you would like to tell us about? Or maybe you have a puffer fish in your aquarium? Tell us about it in the comments below.