Published On: Mon, Dec 8th, 2014

Pufferfish are Poisonous – Contusus richei – also Globefish or Boxfish

Pufferfish

The puffer fish is also known as toadfish, globefish or boxfish

A brace of pufferfish caught by a surfcaster from the beach behind the old railway station at Kaikoura.

A brace of pufferfish caught by a surfcaster from the beach behind the old railway station at Kaikoura. These fish may be Sphoeroides hamiltoni, but certainly of the Tetraodontidae family of fishes.

This is a small fish that is occasionally caught by surfcasters and rock anglers around New Zealand. When caught it inflates its body with water which greatly increases its apparent size. When out of the water they can inflate their bodies with air. This likely being a ruse to frighten off predators. All pufferfish have sharp spines that in some species cannot be seen until the fish inflates itself. Predatory fish that have swallowed a pufferfish risk choking if it inflates itself after being eaten.

This species of pufferfish is small reaching only about 15cm maximum length. The overall colour is light grey, being whitish underneath, with a darker grey to greenish brown blotches on the upper body. The skin is rough. The head and mouth are small though the fused teeth are very sharp. Pufferfish eat crustaceans and molluscs. They will readily take baited hooks.

Pufferfish on Wikipedia – Tetraodontidae family of fishes

Found all around New Zealand but are more prevalent around the South Island. I have caught them from time to time surfcasting at Birdlings Flat near Christchurch.

The pufferfish is poisonous and should not be eaten under any circumstances. The whole body, but in particular the digestive organs, contain deadly neuro-toxins which can kill humans and other animals. Dogs are sometimes killed by the poison when they eat puffer fish washed up on the beach! Do not touch them with your hands should you accidentally catch one while fishing.

The pufferfish gives off a strong perfume like odour when hauled up onto the beach. The smell is not unpleasant but once experienced you never forget it.

About the Author

- Fishingmag.co.nz website editor.