This photo, of a porcupine fish (often mistaken for a blowfish or puffer fish), was taken in Baja, at the Sea of Cortez–at Tecolote Beach, not far from La Paz.
I was relaxing under a palapa when there was a bit of commotion near the water. I thought someone had spotted a sting ray, but it was ‘just’ a porcupine fish. People removed it from the water and a couple of children held it and tried to pet it. At one point, someone put it on the table.
It looked like it was still alive, and I wondered if keeping it out of the water was killing it. It seemed cruel somehow. “It’s dying anyway,” they said.
After about 5 minutes, someone threw it back in.
Did it live or die? I have no idea.
These fish, in the Diodontidae family, (order Tetraodontiformes), are found in shallow temperate and tropical water. When they feel threatened, they swallow water or air and become round and double in size vertically. The porcupine-like spines are sharp and come out when the fish inflates. Some species contain tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin produced by bacteria.
Be careful not to step on a Porcupine fish. “The rare injury from these Baja residents is comparable to a needle prick or stepping on a nail, although the spines can break off in the wound and lead to infection,” according to BajaInsider.com.
They can also sting you.
According to some sources, if you step on one, you can treat the injury on your own, by keeping it clean and using hydrogen peroxide. If one stings you, however, you should seek medical attention. I’d probably do that in either case.
Camera: Olympus XZ-1
F stop: 5.6
Filter: None (just blurred edges a little)
Do you think it was wrong for people to remove this fish from the water?
Would you have held or petted it? If not, why not? If yes, why?
How do you like its face? Was he/she/it looking into the camera–or am I imagining that?
Can’t Get Enough?
Want to see more photos from around the world? Here are the other ‘photos of the day‘ (people, places and things) from several continents.
Like unusual photos? Check out my ‘trippy travel photos.’ The post begins as a game and ends as a learning experience. Enjoy!