We recently explored the shallow seagrass beds of Pine Island Sound with the Bryan family, and it was a fine morning to explore the ocean. We encountered many ocean treasures: A large southern stingray glided past us in knee-deep water – it is a rare treat to watch a large stingray swimming in shallow water. We found lots of spider crabs, lightning whelks and other invertebrate seagrass inhabitants. Then later, we drifted through Redfish Pass with a pod of dolphins as they swam alongside the boat. But, perhaps the best treat of all was to get to know a big Porcupinefish.
It swam right up to us and we were able to visit with it for a few minutes. This fish is the spitting image of the little alien Earth visitor, ET. It could perhaps be the most personable fish ever. However, there is more to this critter than just cute looks.
Porcupinefish are intriguing fish. They inflate themselves to avoid predators, they are covered with large spines which stand up when they inflate and many of them are highly poisonous. They have toxins known as tetrodotoxins in some of their internal organs – these toxins can be more than 1,000 times more poisonous than cyanide. Pretty powerful stuff wrapped up in a really cute fish!
Go to the ocean and see what it has to offer; it will change you.