An Oceans Abcdarium created by the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany

Invasive Species

Vanessa Ortmann

In Japan, puffer fish are called fugu, and are considered a delicacy. They are prepared by well-trained chefs who know how to remove the poisonous organs of the fish carefully. Even so, poisoning by Lagocephalus sceleratus is reported in approximately 45 patients per year in Japan, with a mortality rate of 11%. In recent years, Lagocephalus sceleratus has become an invasive species in the Mediterranean, migrating from the Pacific and Indian Oceans through the Suez Channel. Local people are often not aware of the danger; since 2007 there have been several reports of severe to lethal poisonings from Israel and Lebanon. Additionally, these innocent-looking creatures wreak havoc for fishers because they eat captured fish and destroy fishing gear.

Sources: Kheifets, Julia et al., “Severe Tetrodotoxin Poisoning after Consumption of Lagocephalus sceleratus (Pufferfish, Fugu) Fished in Mediterranean Sea, Treated with Cholinesterase Inhibitor”, Case Reports in Critical Care, (2012).

Kalogirou, Stefanos, “Ecological characteristics of the invasive pufferfish Lagocephalus sceleratus (Gmelin, 1789), Rhodes, Eastern Mediterranean Sea. A case study”, Mediterranean Marine Science, (2013).