A huge toxic fish, known as “Lagocephalus” or the Silver-cheeked toadfish, was caught by fishermen near Ierapetra, southern Crete on Thursday.
The fishermen say that this was the largest of approximately thirty fish belonging to the same species that they had caught during the day.
In recent years, the fish, classified as a “highly toxic invasive fish,” have been known to enter the Mediterranean from the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal. They have been spotted off Crete, the Dodecanese and the islands of the southern Aegean.
Similar to other pufferfishes, it is extremely poisonous if eaten because it contains tetrodotoxin in its ovaries, and to a lesser extent in its skin, muscles, and liver, which is what protects the species from voracious predators.
The fishes’ bodies become toxic as they eat bacteria that contain the toxin. This deadly substance causes paralysis of the voluntary muscles, which may cause its victims to stop breathing or induce heart failure.
Footage captured on the island of Karpathos late in May of 2019 shows Lagocephalus fish swimming near a beach, where dozens of curious swimmers gathered to get a glimpse of the unusual fish. It was reported that one of the fish even bit the finger of a swimmer.
Marine biologists are warning locals and tourists, especially those who engage in fishing activities, about the extreme dangers of consuming any part of the fish.