If you see a barracuda (members of the Sphyraenidae family) when snorkeling around Thailand, you will definitely recognise it. These fish have a rather menacing appearance and have a tendency to be ferocious in nature, although they aren’t generally a threat to humans. Although there are currently 28 recognized species of barracuda, the one most commonly found in the oceans around Thailand is the Chevron Barracuda.
In the animated film Finding Nemo, the fish that ate Nemo’s mother was a Barracuda.
You will instantly recognise a barracuda by it’s elongated body and large size, similar to a snake. They have prominent fang-like teeth with are rather sharp and many species have a prominent under-bite. Barracuda’s have dark blue, dark green or grey scales, with a silvery sheen on their sides and a white belly.
The Chevron Barracuda has very distinct markings on its body, making it one of the easier species to identify. Whist some species of barracuda can grow up to 165cm in length by the time they reach maturity, others only grow to a few inches. The Chevron Barracuda is mid size, averaging between 30-60cm.
Found in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide, Chevron Barracuda fish hang around near the surface of the ocean and around coral reefs and sea grass.
These fish are carnivores and extremely skilled predators. Their diet consists mostly of other smaller fish, such as mullets, snappers and grunts. With their keen eyesight, they are attracted to shiny, metallic objects which remind them of fish scales, so avoid wearing jewelry when snorkeling.
All species of barracudas hunt with lightening speed (up to 36 mph) and accuracy, using their natural surroundings to set up ambushes for unsuspecting prey.
There is very little information documented about the barracudas reproductive habits. Females spawn a couple times throughout the year, releasing between 5.000- 300,000 eggs each time. The fertilised eggs simply float in the water until they hatch.
Since the aren’t many natural predators to the larger species of barracuda, they can live anywhere between 10-15 years. Newly hatched barracuda settle in shallow estuaries where they are protected by the vegetation and have a constant source of food until they grow large enough to venture out into open waters.
Although many larger species prefer to live along, Chevron Barracuda’s tend to school together which makes them easy to spot when diving.
The age of a barracuda can be measured by the number of rings found on its scales.
- Popularly eaten around the world, prepared by smoking and used in soups or broths.
- Considered a game species and are often fished for sport.