Articles, Blog

World’s Most Terrifying Fish

At times, some of the most dangerous creatures
on Earth lie just beneath the water’s surface. Here are 7 of the world’s most terrifying
fish. Number 7: The Snakehead
Members of the Channidae family, snakeheads got their name based on their elongated body
shapes and the snake-like scales on their heads. They can be found in various regions on the
African and Asian continents. Snakeheads have sharp teeth, large mouths
and long dorsal fins. The largest species can exceed 3 feet in length. Adults are thrust-feeders and mainly prey
on smaller fish. One of the most distinctive features that
snakeheads species share is the development of supra-branchial organs when they mature. These organs allow the fish to breathe in
air through their gills and to survive out of the water for up to four days. As long as they move on a wet surface, snakeheads
have been known to migrate on land for almost a quarter of a mile by wriggling their fins
and bodies. This feature has caused the National Geographic
publication to refer to the snakehead as ‘Fishzilla’. National Georgraphic has also reported that
snakeheads reach sexual maturity by the age of three. They mate around five times annually with
each female being able to release almost 15.000 eggs at once. There have also been occurrences of snakeheads
as an invasive species. Once they are released in a foreign water
system, they reproduce in large numbers and without natural opposing competition for food
they often become apex predators thus unbalancing the ecosystems they enter. Willingly or unintentionally, humans have
been releasing snakeheads into non-indigenous waters for more than 100 years. Number 6: The Red Lionfish
Although the red lionfish is mainly found in the coral reef regions of the Indo-Pacific,
they are also found, as an invasive species, in the Caribbean Sea and along the US East
Coast. It is believed that they were initially introduced
off Florida’s region in the 1980’s. They are considered an invasive species in
these regions because they threaten the marine ecosystem by unbalancing the existing food
chains, which can lead to the decline of certain fish population as well as a decline of coral
reef areas. Adult red lionfish can grow up to 18.5 inches,
making it the largest lionfish species in the ocean. The fish draws its name from the long venomous
spines protruding out of its body, which resemble a lion’s mane. Their red dorsal spines are venomous and mainly
used as a defense mechanism. Although their sting is not typically fatal
to human beings, those unfortunate enough to experience it will suffer side effects
which include severe pain and possibly vomiting, breathing difficulties and headaches. Number 5: Payara
Hydrolycus scomberoides, also known as the payara or ‘vampire fish’ is a predatory
fish endemic to the Amazon Basin. It has the potential of reaching lengths of
up to 3.8 feet and weights of almost 40 pounds. Because of the two fangs on its lower jaw
the payara has also been called the Saber Tooth Tigerfish. Its diet consists mostly of other smaller
fish which it impales using its long fangs. These ‘sabers’ can grow as long as 4 to
6 inches and are capable of easily piercing through human skin. The payara has been known to routinely consume
piranhas and this usually occurs because of the size difference between the two species. Their fearsome appearance has drawn the fascination
of many people, some of whom choose to keep them as pets. Aggressive in temperament, the payara often
grows larger than the tank it is kept in and should mostly be fed live food. Due to their highly predatory nature and their
tendency to swim in fast moving, turbulent water systems, the payara have had low survival
rates in captivity. Number 4: The Goliath Tigerfish
The hydrocynus is a genus of fish commonly referred to as ‘tigerfish’ because of
their aggressive temperament and predatory behavior. Aside from overpowering and consuming other
fish, members of the hydrocynus genus have also been proven to be the only freshwater
fish which attack birds in flight. They are mainly found in the African continent. In 1949, renowned angler L.J. McCormick stated
that ‘the Tigerfish of Africa is the fiercest fish that swims’. The largest member of the genus is the Hydrocynus
goliath also known as the goliath tigerfish or mbenga. It is endemic to the Congo River Basin and
Lake Tanganyika. The name ‘mbenga’ is associated with an
evil spirit that, local legends claim, takes hold of the fish and forces it to attack people. Aside from its massive proportions of 6 feet
in length and weight of almost 125 pounds, the goliath tigerfish possesses powerful muscles
and a broad tail, enabling even the most massive specimens to chase down almost any type of
prey. One of its most distinctive features is the
set of 32 long, razor-sharp teeth, which can easily pierce through human flesh. The hunting technique they employ is the result
of many years of evolution which have shaped them into dangerous predators. Dissections have uncovered that, internally,
the goliath tigerfish is equipped with an air sac that reacts to vibrations in the same
way a drum does, which helps it detect nearby movement. While filming a documentary called ‘River
Monsters’ British angler Jeremy Wade caught a massive goliath tigerfish. It was 5 feet long and weighed over 100 pounds. Shortly after returning the fish back into
the water, Wade shared his impressions after having been so close to the beast. ‘The teeth on it are incredibly sharp and
are about the same length as a great white shark. It also has an extremely powerful bite and
has been known to consume prey the same size as itself, attack people and take pieces out
of crocodiles.’ Number 3: The Goonch Catfish
The goonch catfish, also known as the giant devil catfish is part of a genus of fish called
Bagarius which contains four other species. The goonch is the largest of the four weighing
over 200 pounds and reaching lengths of almost 6.6 feet. Their physical characteristics are similar
to those of other catfish species and include broad heads and mouths, wide gill openings
and fins which have filamentous extensions. They are mainly found in regions with fast
moving rivers in South and Southeast Asia. In recent years the goonch catfish has gathered
a reputation as a ‘man eater’ mainly due to several incidents which have occurred in
areas along the Kali River, which flows between Nepal and India. After the fulfillment of Hindu burying rites,
the locals disposed of the funeral pyres in the river. It is believed that the goonch catfish population
had fed on the corpses, which had caused the fish to grow to considerable sizes. Aside from their unplanned growth spurt the
fish were also believed to have acquired a taste for human flesh. In April 1998, as teenager Dil Bahadur was
swimming in the Kali River, he disappeared underwater. His girlfriend and a number of eyewitnesses
stated that something had dragged the 17-year-old below surface level. Residents formed a search party and covered
an area of 3.11 miles for three days. Still, Dil Bahadur’s remains were never
found. Three months after this attack, a young boy
named Dharma Gat was pulled underwater before his father’s eyes. His body was never found. The most recent attack took place in 2007,
in similar circumstances, this time the victim being an 18-year-old man from Nepal. Eyewitness reports described that the victim
had been dragged into the water by a large pig. In an effort to distinguish fact from what
he believed were local legends, biologist Jeremy Wade offered to catch whatever was
causing the attacks. Although skeptical at first, he was intrigued
that all the attacks had happened in a 4-5 mile radius. Before embarking on the expedition he had
heard reports of a domestic water buffalo having been dragged below the water’s surface
by some creature even though the animal had only been drinking in a depth of about 3 feet. After a failed attempt of capturing the creature
using a fishing rod, Wade used a funeral pyre in order to lure it in. Before long, a 6 foot-long, 170 pound-heavy
goonch catfish was caught. It was three times heavier than the average
goonch. Wade concluded that even larger specimens
must have inhabited the river. Number 2: Puffer Fish
Puffer fish are commonly referred to as blowfish. This is mainly due to their ability to increase
in size, several times their normal proportions, in order to intimidate predators. Their incredibly elastic stomachs enable them
to quickly ingest a large amount of water and even air until they become a ball that
makes it almost impossible for predators to consume them. In addition to this defense mechanism, some
species also develop spines on their bodies thus effectively preventing any possible ingestion. Most puffer fish species also contain a substance
called tetrodotoxin. Although it is often lethal for any predators
that consume the puffer fish in their non-inflated state, for human beings tetrodotoxin is almost
1.200 times more deadly than cyanide. There is currently no known antidote to counter
its effects. A single puffer fish has enough tetrodotoxin
to kill 30 adult humans. Ironically, puffer fish meat is seen as a
delicacy. Known as ‘fugu’ in Japan, a meal consisting
of puffer fish meat is only prepared by experienced chefs who are aware of the dangers they and
their customers face. However, there are a number of deaths recorded
annually as a consequence of eating puffer fish. Biologists have identified over 120 species
of puffer fish. Some of them have colors that blend with the
environment while others have patterns and markings that are an indication of their highly
poisonous nature. Number 1: Stonefish
The stonefish lives in the estuaries, rock or coral formations in the shallow coastal
waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is a thick fish with small eyes, a large
head and a large mouth. Its skin has a bumpy texture and is often
covered with lumps which are similar to warts. Because it is able to blend with the surrounding
environment so well, the stonefish usually rests at the bottom, often completely motionless. It is mainly an ambush predator capable of
delivering a swift attack, swallowing its prey in 0.015 seconds. The stonefish is widely considered to be the
most venomous fish in the world. It secrets neurotoxins from the glands located
at the base of its dorsal fin. Whenever the stonefish feels threatened the
sharp spines on its dorsal fin stick up ready to inject a dose of its venom. A member of the Synanceia genus, the name
‘stonefish’ is derived from the fish’s ability of camouflaging itself. Swimmers might not see it because of its stone-like
color and accidentally step on it. The side effects of being stung by a stonefish
include paralysis, severe pain and tissue necrosis. The more pressure applied to the fish, the
more venom it delivers. The sting of a stonefish may lead to heart
failure and even death thus it should be treated as a medical emergency. Treatments include the administration of anti-venom
and applying heat to the affected area, which in some cases has reportedly destroyed the
venom. Stonefish bites can also occur on the beach
as the fish has the ability of surviving for 24 hours outside of water.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *