An excellent gameﬁsh, the great barracuda leads a list of marine ﬁsh that cause ciguatera when eaten, although small fish are apparently not poisonous. Not every barracuda causes ciguatera, but there is no safe or reliable way of recognizing toxic ﬁsh.
IdentificationThe great barracuda is long and slender, with a large, pointed head and large eyes. The dorsal ﬁns are widely separated, and the first dorsal fin has five spines, whereas the second has 10 soft rays. In a large underslung jaw, the great barracuda has large, pointed canine teeth.
It also possesses a bluish-gray or greenish-gray body coloration above the lateral line and a silvery-white belly. A few irregular black blotches are usually scattered on the sides of the body, especially toward the tail.
The young have one dark stripe down each side, which mutates to become blotches as the ﬁsh grow. The great barracuda also occasionally has 18 to 22 diagonal dark bars above the lateral line. It grows much larger, in general, than its relative the Pacific barracuda.