Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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barracuda fierce fish with large jaws and a devastating array of teeth, belong to the genus Sphyraena. The great barracuda, S. barracuda, is found in tropical waters all round the world, but especially in the Caribbean and adjacent waters. A solitary fish (unlike some small relations, which swim in shoals), it is potentially dangerous. So far as direct attacks on human beings are concerned, it is reputedly (but the matter is doubtful) a greater peril than any shark; and it is also one of those fish which in certain conditions can cause in humans who eat it what is called cigatuera poisoning. Its maximum length is not far short of 2 m (6'). The same applies to S. jello, a species found only in the Indo-Pacific. A smaller species of the Caribbean region, S. guachancho, known as the guachancho, seems to be free of the cigatuera danger.