Porcupine Fish Face, Tecolote Beach, Sea of Cortez (Photo of the Day)

Porcupine Fish, Tecolote Beach, La Paz, Baja

This photo, of a porcupine fish (often mistaken for a blowfish or puffer fish), was taken in Baja, at the Sea of Cortez–at Tecolote Beach, not far from La Paz.

I was relaxing under a palapa when there was a bit of commotion near the water. I thought someone had spotted a sting ray, but it was ‘just’ a porcupine fish. People removed it from the water and a couple of children held it and tried to pet it. At one point, someone put it on the table.

Porcupine Fish, Tecolote Beach, La Paz, Baja

Porcupine Fish, Tecolote Beach, La Paz, Baja

It looked like it was still alive, and I wondered if keeping it out of the water was killing it. It seemed cruel somehow. “It’s dying anyway,” they said.

After about 5 minutes, someone threw it back in.

Did it live or die? I have no idea.

These fish, in the Diodontidae family, (order Tetraodontiformes), are found in shallow temperate and tropical water. When they feel threatened, they swallow water or air and become round and double in size vertically. The porcupine-like spines are sharp and come out when the fish inflates. Some species contain tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin produced by bacteria.

Be careful not to step on a Porcupine fish. “The rare injury from these Baja residents is comparable to a needle prick or stepping on a nail, although the spines can break off in the wound and lead to infection,” according to BajaInsider.com.

They can also sting you.

According to some sources, if you step on one, you can treat the injury on your own, by keeping it clean and using hydrogen peroxide. If one stings you, however, you should seek medical attention. I’d probably do that in either case.

Photographic Details

Camera: Olympus XZ-1
F stop: 5.6
Shutter: 1/1000
ISO: 100
Filter: None (just blurred edges a little)

Your Thoughts/Reactions

Do you think it was wrong for people to remove this fish from the water?

Would you have held or petted it? If not, why not? If yes, why?

How do you like its face? Was he/she/it looking into the camera–or am I imagining that? :)

Can’t Get Enough?

Want to see more photos from around the world? Here are the other ‘photos of the day‘ (people, places and things) from several continents.

Like unusual photos? Check out my ‘trippy travel photos.’ The post begins as a game and ends as a learning experience. Enjoy!

9 Responses to Porcupine Fish Face, Tecolote Beach, Sea of Cortez (Photo of the Day)
  1. Laurel
    August 22, 2013 | 4:15 am

    I love porcupine fish, they’re not what you expect a fish to look like. It makes me sad that someone took it out of the water though, especially for so long. I’m sure the poor thing didn’t survive.
    Laurel recently posted..Baby Colobus Monkeys in Nyungwe Forest RwandaMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      August 25, 2013 | 2:54 am

      Hi, Laurel. True–they don’t look the way you might expect. I was sad, too, about the fish being pulled out. I didn’t know what to do, either, because I wasn’t sure if I could get hurt if I touched it. I’m glad they put it back in, buy you might be right that it didn’t make it. :(

  2. Maria
    August 22, 2013 | 7:50 am

    Incredible animal and a great portrait!
    Was the beach littered with them or was that the only one you came across while there?
    Maria recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – MongoliaMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      August 25, 2013 | 2:52 am

      Thanks, Maria! I didn’t see any others. This was the only one.

  3. Brittany @ Paws for Beer
    December 11, 2013 | 10:51 am

    he looks friendly!

    I don’t like taking fish out of the water. What seems like only seconds to take a photo could feel like forever to the fish. Who would want to release the fish back into the water only to have it turn belly up :-(
    Brittany @ Paws for Beer recently posted..Trip Rewind: Frank Lloyd Wright Kentuck Knob, Chalk Hill, PennsylvaniaMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      December 14, 2013 | 10:10 am

      Hi, Brittany. I hear what you’re saying. That must have felt like a very long time for the fish. I didn’t know what to think when they did it. Do you think he died once they put him back in? If so, that’s a shame.

      • Brittany @ Paws for Beer
        December 14, 2013 | 2:44 pm

        It’s hard to say if he make it or not – usually you see right away if they were out of the water long – at least in my experience. I use to fish on a big lake near my home and there was an endangered trout fish that we sometimes would accidentally catch – if it took too long to get the hook out sometimes the fish wouldn’t make it :-(
        Brittany @ Paws for Beer recently posted..Photo Friday 12/13/13 Yelapa Beach, MexicoMy Profile

  4. Matt
    February 24, 2015 | 12:21 am

    We were just at this beach in La Paz last week and the kids found 10-15 of these fish dead on the beach and a handful of the swimming in the shallow water. Very odd looking fish. Our 3 year old stepped on 2 dead ones, but luckily didn’t get stuck.

    • CB Driver
      March 23, 2015 | 3:01 pm

      You saw a bunch of those porcupine fish dead on the beach? What a shame. Glad your toddler was OK!

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