Invading puffer fish at the gates of the Atlantic
The toxic puffer fish Lagocephalus sceleratus , originating from the Red Sea, has been detected in the Strait of Gibraltar thanks to the observation of Juan Manuel Postigo, member of Sea Watchers. It is the first time that it is documented in this area, indicating that it could continue its expansion beyond the Mediterranean.
Exotic species are those that develop in areas other than their usual habitat, altering the balance of the ecosystems in which they are established. Numerous tropical species from the Red Sea have reached the Mediterranean Sea, due to the opening of the Suez Canal, which have caused important consequences for marine ecosystems. So far, more than one hundred species of fish have entered the Mediterranean through this route, and the number continues to increase due to the continuous detection of newly introduced species that continue their progressive expansion towards the western zone.
One of the species that has awakened the most alert from the Red Sea is Lagocephalus sceleratus , a toxic puffer fish due to its high content of tetrodotoxin, whose consumption can cause serious poisoning and even death in the worst case.
This puffer fish was detected on the Spanish Mediterranean coast in 2014, after a decade of expansion in the eastern Mediterranean. After the first sighting in Spain, a information campaign was launched targeting that the fishing sector recognized this species and could warn of its presence, which made it easier to continue the expansion of this invader and avoid poisoning from its ingestion.
The observation of Lagocephalus sceleratus specifically, the Strait of Gibraltar on the beach of San Amaro (Ceuta), contributed by the observer Juan Manuel Postigo through this platform, is the first documented capture in the western end of the Mediterranean, indicating that this invasive fish is already at gates of the Atlantic.
The sighting has been documented by a team of researchers led by IRBIM-CNR and Stazione Zoologica Anthon Dohrn from Naples (Italy), in collaboration with Sea Watchers, the MPA-Engage project led by ICM- CSIC de Barcelona, and the Facebook group Oddfish.
Azzurro E, Bariche M, Cerri J, Garrabou J (2020) The long reach of the Suez Canal: Lagocephalus sceleratus (Gmelin, 1789) an unwanted Indo-Pacific pest at the Atlantic gates. BioInvasions Records 9 (2): 204–208, https://doi.org/10. 3391 / bir.2020.9.2.05