Poisonous Red Sea Pufferfish Lagocephalus Sceleratus reach Crete

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Lagocephalus Sceleratus reach Crete

Cretan fishermen occasionally catch strange pufferfish in their nets in the south of Crete (area of Ierapetra). These have no scales, hard skin, with a grey lower body and black spots on the upper body. Their scientific name of Lagocephalus sceleratus is due to the fact that they have two teeth in each jaw, making them look like hares. The fish are 10-35 cm long.

lagocephalus Sceleratus
Lagocephalus Sceleratus. Source: fishbase.org

These fish are Lessepsian migrants, invading the Mediterranean from the Red Sea through the Suez Canal. They must not be eaten because their skin and internal organs contain a neurotoxin that paralyses the nervous and respiratory systems. This toxin is not affected by heat or cooking. Pufferfish is only eaten in Japan, where it is known as fugu: the poisonous organs are removed by specialist cooks on the day the fish is caught.

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