Spotted Porcupinefish (Diodon hystrix)

© 2000 by Image Quest 3-D
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Photograph by Carlos Villoch

The porcupinefish (Diodon hystrix) gets its name from the numerous spines located all over the head and body. It is a member of the puffer fish family Diodontidae. These fish are capable of expanding their body size by taking in water and inflating when threatened. The spines of the porcupinefish only stick out when the fish is inflated, at all other times the spines lay flat against the body. When fully inflated, the fish has a formidable presence that makes predators think twice about taking a bite.

The pocupinefish is a shy creature and will normally retreat if approached by divers. They secrete a toxic skin substance so are usually considered poisonous, although they have been known to be eaten in some places such as Japan and Hawaii. The toxic properties of the puffer and porcupinefish venom have been the focus for ground-breaking research in North America into the development of cancer-relief drugs.

Click here to read an article on how Blowfish toxins can be used in the treatment of human pain.


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2001 by Image Quest 3-D
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