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Poisonous exotic fish in Med February 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Nature.
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An exotic fish which has started slipping into the eastern Mediterranean from its native waters in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean is extremely toxic and should not be eaten, marine experts warned yesterday.

The silver-stripe blaasop, which is silvery-gray with black spots, a white belly and a bright silver stripe along its side, contains a poisonous substance in its liver, skin and reproductive organs which can cause fatal muscle paralysis and breathing or circulation problems if eaten by humans, according to researchers at the Rhodes Hydrobiological Station.

The Hellenic Center for Medical Research sent an urgent notice to all the country’s port authorities to warn professional and amateur fishermen about the toxic qualities of the fish. “This fish is a source of poison for human beings if eaten, with a high risk of fatality,” the notice said.

According to the director of the Rhodes station, Andreas Sioulas, the silver-stripe blaasop (Lagocephalus sceleratus) belongs to a group of fish called the “Lesseps migrants” because they slipped into the eastern Mediterranean through the Suez Canal, whose construction was overseen by Ferdinand de Lesseps.

The silver-stripe blaasop, which can reach over a meter in length, was first spotted off Rhodes in the summer 2005 but there has been a sharp increase in its presence in the eastern Mediterranean since then, Sioulas said. “At least 10 samples have been found this month alone,” he said.

The fish is a delicacy in some ports in the Indian Ocean but the locals know how to remove the parts containing the poison, Sioulas said. There have been 10 reported deaths of people known to have eaten the silver-stripe blaasop in the eastern Mediterranean, eight in Egypt and two in Israel.

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