Are Barracudas Dangerous to Humans? (Things to Know)

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

Are you afraid of barracuda when diving or snorkeling?

The rumor of this fish attacking humans may hinder you from enjoying your time in the water.

Are barracudas dangerous? They are famous predators with their strength and speed. However, the record of it hurting people is rare.

If you still want to go into the water, check this article and learn how to do it safely. You will also find out interesting facts about these fish.

What Is A Barracuda?

Barracudas are among the most feared creatures in the sea. They belong to the Sphyraena family, which means “pike-like” fish in Latin.

These creatures have evolved a highly efficient structure that is perfect for their role as competitive marine predators.

Size

are barracudas dangerous

There are up to 26 different barracuda subspecies, and their size varies. The Great Barracuda, the most famous one, can be 24 to 39 inches in length.

Sphyraena flavicauda is a close relative, which is often 23 inches long. It’s much smaller than the 59-inch Sphyraena jello.

Distinguishable features

They have a set of muscular jaws and a big mouth. They are also famous for their large jaws and fang-like teeth.

The two significantly dorsal fins and a twisted tail fin make them strong swimmers, which are other distinctive features.

Barracuda, like other fish, don’t have eyelids. You may notice one moving really slowly as they’re sleeping.

They are, nevertheless, still on the watch for danger while sleeping. You should avoid waking one up from sleep because it may respond violently to such a sudden wakeup.

Are Barracudas Dangerous?

The short answer is yes. These fish may hurt you with their sharp, strong teeth. However, seeing it while snorkeling does not always mean that it will bite you straight away.

Barracudas attacking humans is uncommon. They are simply curious, sight-seeing creatures who like to follow divers and snorkelers.

When this fish attacks, it’s usually because it’s attempting to steal its prey from spearfishers or mistaking a shining object, such as a knife, for the sparkle of a shiny fish.

Such events generally include a single, quick strike that ends with some tissue loss or a laceration.

To dig into this topic deeper, we will discuss this fish’s behaviors and feeding habits. Then, you can explain how dangerous it is.

Behaviors

Adult barracudas are solitary hunters, while the young juveniles gather in schools. The number of members in a school may reach hundreds or thousands.

On the idea of safety, schooling protects juvenile fish from attackers, giving each member the strength of the group.

When a predator approaches a school, the kids often form a confusing vortex, stopping the predator from focusing on any one barracuda as its prey.

While hunting, the school’s multiple eyes usually work together to locate food.

Although a huge school implies a smaller food split among the members, it really benefits the students in food tracking and safety.

As you can see, even when they form a group, their main purpose is not about attacking humans.

Barracudas are aggressive predators. As long as they do not see you as their prey, you can be safe.

Feeding habits

Barracudas are just a few carnivores at the top position of the food chain, with their excellent eyesight and strong teeth.

They are incredibly opportunistic, hiding among seagrass to attack innocent creatures and rapidly moving over coral reefs in searching for food. They attack with a single perfect bite that is fatal.

Their strong jaws can help them to attack larger fish by cutting them in two. So, in the end, everything which looks edible might end up in their stomachs!

Barracudas seem dangerous with their teeth. This feature makes people feel that this species can kill them, and it really may.

Fortunately, you can avoid encountering such animals when you are diving and snorkeling. We will show you how in the next section.

Tips For Snorkeling Around Barracuda

Do you still want to snorkel even when the barracudas are around? It’s fine as long as you bear in mind these tips.

Stay calm

Do not panic if you find a barracuda in the water with you. The fish is curious rather than angry. It’s important to note that these animals only attack people in self-defense.

Snorkel smoothly

Whether or not you notice the fish, try to swim, dive, and snorkel as gracefully as possible.

The sea’s lifeblood is smooth rhythms. Don’t mess it up and upset the sea animals’ habitat.

Do not wear shiny items.

If you run across this fish while wearing anything shiny, don’t be too frightened, but attempt to cover it.

The eyesight of this animal is good. It won’t bite your hand, assuming that it’s the prey.

Why Do Barracudas Follow You?

As aforementioned, these fish like to follow shiny things because they look like their prey. If you wear such objects, they will surely chase after you.

Aside from the sparkling things, barracudas may follow you because of other reasons, such as.

You look like a big predator.

Barracuda are scavengers and hunters. The latter is clear because of their sharp chompers, while the former just appears to make sense.

As you are big enough to resemble its predator, the fish may wait for you to approach and attack you.

You smell like fish.

Barracuda have large teeth, which allow them to eat other marine creatures. You could smell like its favorite food if you’ve recently gone fishing, grilled, or touched a fish.

Snorkeling or diving before grilling your fishing is the greatest way to prevent smelling like a barracuda’s prey.

Myths About Barracudas

Even when you haven’t seen them, you may have heard some myths about them, such as they are poisonous and often attack people. Are they true?

All barracuda are poisonous.

Although it is not advisable to eat, this species is not poisonous. You risk getting ciguatera poisoning if you eat it, much like many other tropical species.

Ciguatera forms from a type of plankton that produces the toxin that bigger fish eat.

Unfortunately, the amount of toxins has increased throughout the food chain due to the amount of trash that people throw into the sea. Hence, the poisons in these bigger fish are present at greater levels.

Barracuda frequently attack humans.

We also recorded 25 attacks by this animal in the last century. Most of the events were serious lacerations.

Scientists believe that in these situations, people disturb the barracuda, activating its defenses.

The majority of these attacks included spearfishing divers, resulting in a battle for the catch between the fish and the spearfisherman.

You can learn some more interesting facts about these species right here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about barracudas. Please check the answers, and you can learn more about these creatures.

Why do barracudas follow you?

Shiny objects attract these creatures because such things look like their prey – the silvery fish.

Humans who enter the water with sparkling goods such as bracelets and jewelry may catch their attention.

Has anyone died from a barracuda?

Attacks by barracudas rarely end in fatalities. A barracuda was blamed for a death in Key West in 1947 and another in North Carolina in 1957.

How big can barracudas get?

The Great Barracuda is a huge fish and one of the biggest in the Barracuda family. Mature specimens vary in length from 24 to 39 inches and weigh from 5.5 and 20 pounds. Large species can grow to be over five feet long and weigh over 50 pounds.

How fast is a barracuda?

They are among the world’s fastest fish. Thanks to its thin and long body, a barracuda can reach the maximum speed of 36 mph.

Conclusion

So, are barracudas dangerous to humans?

Although they don’t often attack people, you should always be careful while snorkeling around them.

Make sure that there are not any shiny objects on your body. Besides, unfortunately, be calm and encounter the fish.

Hopefully, you have discovered valuable information about barracudas. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Thank you for reading!