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October 25, 2001

Citizen Cuda - A Fish for All Oceans

Among the many species in the barracuda family (Sphyraenidae), the largest and most widespread is the great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) - which in the International Game Fish Association record book tops out with a tie between two all-tackle records: 84 pounds, 14 ounces, taken in 1991 from the Philippines, and 85 pounds taken at Christmas Island in 1992.Although no one knows how old such monsters are, a 40-pounder was aged at 18 years, according to Shaun Kadison, marine associate at the Florida Marine Research Institute¿' Marathon office in the Keys.

Among the many species in the barracuda family (Sphyraenidae), the largest and most widespread is the great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) - which in the International Game Fish Association record book tops out with a tie between two all-tackle records: 84 pounds, 14 ounces, taken in 1991 from the Philippines, and 85 pounds taken at Christmas Island in 1992.
Although no one knows how old such monsters are, a 40-pounder was aged at 18 years, according to Shaun Kadison, marine associate at the Florida Marine Research Institute¿' Marathon office in the Keys. Kadison says that all the larger fish appear to be female.
Other world records include a blackfin barracuda (S. qenie; 15 pounds, 12 ounces) taken off Guatemala, a Guinean cuda (S. afra; 66 pounds, 12 ounces) taken in the waters of Kiribati, a Mexican cuda (S. ensis; 21 pounds) caught in Costa Rica; a 26-pound, 8-ounce Pacific barracuda (S. argentea; Costa Rica), a pickhandle barracuda (S. jello; 25 pounds, 5 ounces; South Africa) and a yellowmouth barracuda (S. viridensis; 18 pounds, 1 ounce) from the Canary Islands.
Most species of barracuda school, often forming enormous aggregations at which divers marvel. But the great barracuda tends to live a solitary life. And while many smaller species have distinct patterns, irregular black blotches cover the sides of the great barracuda.
Unlike most mature predatory game fish, the great barracuda has few constraints in habitat since large ones will range from blue water well offshore to the skinniest of backcountry flats. However, they do have preferences, and most often that means bays, channels and inlets inshore and along beaches and over reefs on the outside.
Kadison cites inshore movement during cooler winter months. The lowest recorded water temperature for a barracuda that Kadison knows of is 58 degrees taken in southwest Florida¿' Everglades in 1963.."¿' guess that's pretty close to their lower limit."Still, many of the larger specimens remain offshore where they eat a variety of fish.."¿'e found everything in their stomachs - lots of pelagic baitfish, but e also seen them run down and eat dolphin. They're not terribly fast, but their rate of acceleration is incredibly high! They do zero-to-60 in no time."