Claire Corlett

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What’s Inside A Puffer Fish?

What’s Inside A Puffer Fish?


If there’s one thing you
know about puffer fish, it’s that they can do this. When aggravated by a predator, they, you know, puff up. Some puffers, like the porcupine fish, become a bona fide spike ball, moving through the water
seemingly out of control. But if you peer inside a puffer, you’ll learn that puffing
up isn’t the only trait that makes these fish one of the most threatening creatures in the sea. Contrary to what it looks like, puffer fish are not like balloons. Because what’s normally
inside them isn’t air. It’s water. Elizabeth Brainerd: What
they do is they actually take water into their mouths
in a big mouthful of water, and then they pump it
down into their stomach. Narrator: That’s Elizabeth Brainerd, a biologist and puffer fish
expert at Brown University. Brainerd: And they do that
anywhere 10 or 15 times, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, until they inflate completely, and then they hold it and they’ll just be a big, spiny ball. Narrator: And as you might expect, this requires some pretty
sophisticated biology, starting with the stomach. It’s made of dozens of tiny folds, kind of like an accordion. These folds are important because when the stomach fills up with water, it can expand without rupturing. And puffer fish expand a lot. Up to three times their size. That’s like if an average human
man could inflate his waist to a circumference of 3 meters. But there is a drawback
to these amazing skills. Brainerd suspects that
puffer fish stomachs have actually lost the
ability to digest food, which means their intestines
have to do all the work. Brainerd: You know, given
the apparent importance of this defense mechanism, they’ve given up the
advantages of having a stomach where some digestion can start. Narrator: But the stomach? It’s just one of many bizarre
features inside a puffer. For example, they have specialized muscles that you won’t find in most other fish. Some in their mouth, which pump all that
water into their stomach; some in their esophagus,
to seal off their stomach like a drain plug once it’s full; and some in the base of their bellies, which contract to squeeze out water when they’re ready to deflate. But what you won’t find
inside is even more bizarre. Brainerd: There are a couple characters that are really helpful in
their ability to puff up, and one of those is that
they don’t have any ribs, and another one is they
don’t have any pelvis. Narrator: In other words,
puffers are essentially missing bones. And that’s a good thing, because otherwise they’d
get in the way of inflation. In fact, according to Brainerd, if it weren’t for these missing bones, puffer fish would probably have never evolved this way in the first place. And that would be a shame, since puffing up really is a good defense. Consider one old study in which researchers
watched birds go fishing. The birds caught 11 puffer fish, but they dropped nearly half of them because the fish started to inflate. But what’s more surprising is that the birds left with empty beaks might have been the lucky ones. Because puffers have another, more potent defense up their sleeves. Their bodies are laced with a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin. It’s up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. So poisonous that one puffer fish can kill 30 adult humans. So poisonous that puffers are reportedly the second most poisonous
vertebrate in the world, which is why it’s also surprising that us humans? We actually eat them. That’s right. In Japan, puffer fish is
actually a delicacy called fugu, which only trained chefs can prepare. And considering that these
fish are basically spike balls filled with poison and we’re still serving
them in restaurants, they must be seriously delicious.

89 comments on “What’s Inside A Puffer Fish?

  1. Fugu is extremely bland. I had a full meal of Fugu courses at a very nice tokyo restaurant and it was extremely disappointing. It’s nearly flavorless, and extremely chewy. Still worth a try just for curiosity’s sake though.

  2. 3:49 You know what? That rising-sun flag is a symbol of Japanese Empire which killed enormous people in Korea, China, and many of Southeastern countries. (like Hakenkreuz in Europe) Please concern about this, and could you please replace that part to neutral symbol of Japan? It recalls trauma of WWII.

    PS. always thank you for uploading inspiring videos 🙂

  3. Me: Hey mommy can I go and see the pufferfish??
    Mom: Sure sweety…
    Mom: those pufferfish won’t be there for long… grabs dining plate and knife

  4. Uhh… so how they fill up with water if they're caught and not on water?? Where did they get the water from? What sorcery is this?!?!

  5. Coyote from brave wilderness Taught me some of this and also samo,nella says there skeletons bones slide out past eachother

  6. Puffer fish : have self protection , a poison that can kill 30 adults

    Human : literally eat everything, even if it's poison or not

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