Second toxic puffer fish found in Maltese waters

A second individual of the silver-cheeked toadfish, which produces one of the most potent marine toxins, has been caught in Maltese waters

It is important that the silver-cheeked toadfish is not consumed as it could lead to hospitalisation or even death
It is important that the silver-cheeked toadfish is not consumed as it could lead to hospitalisation or even death

A second individual of the silver-cheeked toadfish, a toxic puffer fish, was recently caught in Maltese waters, following the first record of the species last year.

According to Alan Deidun, cooridnotr of the Spot the Alien Fish campaign, the find is significant since this species of fish is an invasive alien one which produces one of the most potent marine toxins known – TTX (tetrodotoxin) – which paralyses parts of the nervous system and the diaphragm, and for which no known antitoxin exists.

The species reportedly first entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal in 2003 and is known as a Lessepsian migrant.

It is important that the species is not consumed in any way since it could invariably lead to hospitalisation or even death, Deidun warned.

He adds that the species is also known to have a considerable impact on fisheries by virtue of its invasive character, and is only processed for culinary purposes by licensed chefs in China and Taiwan.

The individual was handed to Prof. Alan Deidun by David Agius as part of the ongoing Spot the Alien Fish campaign, a citizen science which was launched in October, and which is run jointly by the University of Malta, the International Ocean Institute (IOI) and the Department of Fisheries within the MSDEC Ministry, with the collaboration of ISPRA of Italy.

A campaign poster was produced, featuring 32 fish species hailing either from the Indo-Pacific region or from the Atlantic, and is being distributed to all local fishermen, Scuba diving clubs and marine enthusiasts.

The poster also indicates which fish species should not be consumed (toxic) nor handled (venomous). Any records of these 32 fish species as well as of any other anomalous species caught in local waters should be submitted to [email protected] or by calling on 2292 6888 (Fisheries Control Room) or on 7960 4109.

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