Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India

Volume 15 Issue 1

Barracudas (Pisces: Sphyraenidae) of the Indian Ocean and Adjacent Seas - A preliminary review of their systematics and ecology.

De Sylva Dinal P.

A preliminary review of the barracudas of the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas is presented. With the notable exception of the study of Williams (1959), the majority of published identifications of barracudas from this region have been incorrect because of a virtual lack of illustrations and because of inadequate original descriptions.

All species are relegated to the genus Sphyraena Rose. A tentative key to the Adults of the 11 species which occur in this region is presented. These species are: forsteri, africana, acutipinnis, obtusata, flavicauda, novaehollndiae, barracuda, bteekeri, qenie, jello and idiastes. All other nominal species described from the Indian Ocean are tentatively synonymized with these species. The identity of putnamiae, toxeusa, dentatus, and koehleri has not yet been resolved.

Barracudas are important to man for food and recreation. However, they present a threat because they attack swimmers and bathers. In certain Indo-Pacific regions, as well as in the Caribbean, several species have been implicated in ciguatera (ichthyosarcotoxism), or poisoning caused by eating freshly captured specimens. The poisoning is believed to be associated with the food habits and ecology of certain species. However, published literature determining which species are dangerous to man or are poisonous to eat, and which geographic areas are responsible, is inadequate to identify the species involved. It is urged that adequate series of study specimens be collected from all parts of the Indo-Pacific, together with records of attacks and poisonings for those areas, so that distributional and ecological analyses can be effected.

Date : 31-08-1973