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Barracuda Facts

Barracuda facts, species, diet, range, distribution, preferences.

Barracudas are weird fish that don’t seem to fit in with the rest of the fish in the sea. They are torpedo shaped like Wahoo and Kingfish, but even more so. More powerful.

The mouth of the Barracuda is long and filled with large flesh-ripping teeth. They hover motionless for minutes or hours at a time. They’re a bit creepy, to be honest!

Don’t miss my Barracuda Story below!

Barracuda Fish Facts

Many anglers go fishing for barracuda because they are somewhat difficult to hook and they explode with power – even aerial jumps – when hooked.

They can put up a great fight and they can really pull. They have a thick tail and streamlined body that makes the drag scream when they make runs after being hooked.

PRO TIP – Barracuda are also known as Cuda, Torpedos, Tigers, Silver bullets, Tigers of the sea.

Species: Sphyraena barracuda. The Great Barracuda.

Similar Species

Barracuda resemble the mackerels. King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and wahoo all look like barracuda to some degree. The differentiating factor is the massive mouth, teeth, head, huge fleshy tail, and protruding lower jaw on the barracuda.

IUCN Redlist Protective Status

LC – Least Concern. There are lots of them and the population is spread across the globe. See map below.

Appearance

  • Long, grey with some green on the back.
  • Torpedo or long-bullet shape
  • Light colored belly (whitish)
  • Very large head and mouth. Lower jaw or mouth protrudes further than upper jaw.
  • Lateral (sides) with dark blotchy marks
  • Tail is large, fleshy, with white tips

Length and Weight

Always less than 2 meters long ( inches) Barracuda are typically big fish that are 2 to 3 feet long as adults. Maximum length approaches 78 inches long and weight can be around 100 lb. for huge fish.

The slot length is 15″ to 25″ in Florida counties around Miami. See our Barracuda fishing regulations page.

Average weight for an adult is 5 to 20 lb.

Range and Distribution

Range map for Great Barracuda worldwide.
Mustard color marks the range and distribution of the Great Barracuda species across the world. Image from iucnredlist.org.

Distribution ranges across the globe to the north and south of the equator where the water is consistently warm. With such a wide range and with limited pressure from commercial or recreational fishing, barracuda are not in any danger of becoming a threatened species in the short term.

Habitat

They like warm temperate waters. Maximum depth of around 110 meters (361 ft).

Diet

They prey on all kinds of fish, squid, and shrimp. They will often come to a fish kill and steal whatever was killed. They sometimes compete with dolphins and sharks for food.

Young

Young grow fast at first, then more slowly. They prefer sea grass beds where they can take cover from predators. They eat other small fish, eggs, and insects until larger.

Predators

As young, barracuda may be eaten by many larger fish and predators. While young they are fast too, so they fair better than most smaller fish as they grow.

Other Interesting Facts

Barracuda are some of the fastest fish in the ocean. They can reach speeds of 36 mph (58 kph) and they love a fast fishing lure that sparkles (flashes) or reflects the sunlight. A weird lure you can make yourself is a tube lure. We show you what they are on our Barracuda Fishing Gear page.

Farming

Barracuda fish are not farmed as far as I could find during research. There are too many other better eating and faster growing fish in the sea that farming makes sense for.

Barracuda Stories

I snorkeled with a guy in Maui that had his arm bitten into by a small barracuda as he snorkeled in the same spot we were that day. The skin on his arm was still scabbed up. He said it was an accident because the water was so murky.

I’m not so sure!

Did you ever see “Faces of Death”? It’s a series of films someone shot to show crazy ways people die. There was a guy with an underwater camera filming barracuda. I think off Florida or Bermuda. There were some big fish in front of him about 5 yards away. All of the sudden, one of them turned and darted toward him with an open mouth. Blood filled the water everywhere and the video was cut. The next shot showed him in the hospital with over 200 stitches on his face and head.

Apparently they will strike in an instant if they see a flash of light off glass or chrome, steel, etc. Something must have caught his eye!

Barracuda Guide Resources

  • de Sylva, D. 1963. Systematics and life history of the Great Barracuda, Sphyraena barracuda. Studies in Tropical Oceanography, University of Miami, Miami FL.
  • IUCN Redlist – The International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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