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Tunas Barracudas Marlins and Relatives: Scombroidei

Great Barracuda (sphyraena Barracuda): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Great barracudas reach a length of 79 inches (200 centimeters) but usually are about 51 inches (130 centimeters) long. The body is long and somewhat narrow from side to side. The head is large and has a long pointed snout. The mouth is large, and the lower jaw juts beyond the upper jaw. Great barracudas have strong pointed teeth of unequal sizes in both jaws and in the roof of the mouth. The two dorsal fins are far apart, and the first has five strong spines. The body is deep green to steel gray on the back, silver on the sides, and white on the belly. Adults have angled dark bars on the upper sides and usually have scattered inky blotches on the lower sides toward the rear.

Geographic range: Great barracudas live all over the world except the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean.

Habitat: Adult great barracudas usually live in reefs and offshore areas. The young live in shallow water over sandy and weedy bottoms.

Great barracudas are fierce hunters of small fish, squid, and crustaceans. (Illustration by Barbara Duperron. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Great barracudas are fierce hunters of small fish, squid, and crustaceans.

Behavior and reproduction: Adult great barracudas live alone, but the young form schools. Most male great barracudas can reproduce when they are two years old. Females can reproduce when they are four years old. Females spawn several times in one season.

Great barracudas and people: Great barracudas have attacked humans, but most attacks happened because the swimmer was carrying a silvery, bright object, which a barracuda mistakes for prey. Great barracudas are important game fish, but because it can cause a form of food poisoning, the meat is not eaten in most areas.

Conservation status: Great barracudas are not threatened or endangered. ∎



Allen, Missy, and Michel Peissel. Dangerous Water Creatures. New York: Chelsea House, 1992.

Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Schultz, Ken. Ken Schultz's Field Guide to Saltwater Fish. New York: Wiley, 2004.

Web sites:

"Barracuda." Discoveryschool.com. http://school.discovery.com/schooladventures/planetocean/barracuda.html (accessed on November 5, 2004).

Empty Oceans, Empty Nets. PBS. http://www.pbs.org/emptyoceans/eden/tuna (accessed on November 5, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesTunas Barracudas Marlins and Relatives: Scombroidei - Barracudas, Tunas, Marlins, Their Relatives, And People, Blue Marlin (makaira Nigricans): Species Accounts - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION, CONSER