This snaggletoothed fish is a common catch year round in Cozumel but how do you know if it is OK to eat?
Ask any Cozumeleño and you will probably hear at least one of the following methods describing how to determine if a barracuda is safe to eat…
Feed a little barracuda to the cat.
If it your furry friend is still purring a few hours later you are good to go. This is not recommended. Simply sharing old island tales.
Lesson Learned: You may save your stomach but could suffer the heartbreak of losing a beloved pet.
Place the barracuda’s raw liver in your mouth.
If your mouth has a reaction such as tingling or numbness, the fish should not be consumed. This task is typically performed by the crew member who cleans the catch. All is well if the taste tester has not imbibed.
Helpful Hint: Don’t trust a drunken fisherman. If the tester has tossed a few too many back, their judgement along with their taste buds maybe impaired.
If the name of the month you catch a barracuda in does not contain the letter “R”, it is not safe to eat.
This means do not eat barracuda during the following months: May, June, July or August. In other words, warm weather months.
Fun Fact: This works in Spanish too – Mayo, Junio, Julio o Agosto.
Why would anyone question eating barracuda when many people claim the white flaky meat of this fish is delicious? Some algae breed in tropical waters under specific conditions and produce a naturally occurring toxin. Small fish may feed on this toxic algae. Predatory barracudas can devour these fish, allowing the toxin to enter their systems and build up over time. Depending on multiple factors such as catch location, seasonal temperatures, the age and size of the barracuda, eating this fish could result in Ciguatera fish poisoning (food poisoning).
To eat or not to eat?
Try to catch one and decide for yourself! https://delillesports.com/tours/deep-sea-fishing/