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Inflating to survive Pufferfish

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In the sea, few defense strategies are as comprehensive as that of the “pufferfish.” This peculiar animal, when feeling trapped or threatened, immediately reacts by swallowing water, significantly increasing its volume until it becomes a ball. In this state, it is difficult for a predator to fit it into its mouth. However, even if the predator swallows it before it inflates, it will pay with its life for its audacity, as the flesh of the pufferfish contains a deadly poison called tetrodotoxin.

Unfortunately, this elaborate defense mechanism does not prevent them from becoming victims of humans. When taken out of the water, the pufferfish inflates, as it has the same capacity to swallow air as water. Exposed to the sun, they dry up while retaining their rounded shape, and once dried, they are used as ornaments. In China, they are highly popular because, when dried, an electric bulb is inserted through their mouth, turning them into “pufferfish lamps” that hang from ceilings.

Despite the deadly poison, these fish are consumed with great pleasure in Japan. They are used to prepare “Fugu.” A chef needs to possess a certificate from a special school that teaches how to prepare Fugu. Intoxication resulting from improperly prepared pufferfish is fatal in sixty percent of cases. Undoubtedly, it is a high-risk dish.

“You cannot defend what you do not love, and you cannot love what you do not know.”