10 Incredible Barracuda Facts

Written by Brandi Allred
Updated: October 11, 2022
© aquapix/Shutterstock.com
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Barracudas, or, cudas, as they’re commonly known, live in the surface layer of many of the world’s oceans. They’re specifically a salt water fish, but, more than that, they’re extraordinary predators who strike fear into the hearts of fish everywhere. Some of the most incredible barracuda facts have to do with both their reputation, and their fearsome nature. As a whole, barracudas are some of the most proficient hunters in the ocean. And, they make popular targets for sport fishermen. 

They might not be as deadly as great white sharks, or as big as killer whales, but barracudas are striking predators nonetheless. Here, we’ll learn ten incredible barracuda facts. By the end, you’ll be well versed in just what makes barracudas some of the coolest, scariest fish, in our oceans today.

1. Barracudas are Carnivores

Barracuda with prey
These predatory fish are the only members of the genus Sphyraena in the Sphyraenidae family of fish.

©Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary – Public Domain

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Barracudas don’t just look like extreme predators, they are extreme predators. With few natural predators, adult barracuda pretty much have the run of the water. They use their hunting prowess to feed on anchovies, tuna, mullet, snappers, groups, jacks, and other medium sized fish. They hunt mostly during the day, in the surface layer of the ocean. Young barracuda necessarily eat smaller creatures, and hunt opportunistically. Though, they stay away from crustaceans, like crabs and lobster, as well as mollusks.

2. They Live in Salt Water

An incredible barracuda fact has to do with where they live. If you’re swimming in a lake, pond, or river—have no fear, barracudas are not near. Instead, these fish live only in salt water, though they may be found both just off the beach and in deep water. Barracuda live in tropical and subtropical oceans near the equator. They’re common off the East Coast of the United States, but are almost entirely absent from the northern Pacific Ocean. They live in both the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea

3. Barracudas Put Up a Fight

Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) in Prague sea aquarium
These fish have excellent eyesight, like hammerhead sharks. Unlike hammerheads, they don’t have a 360 degree field of vision.

©Karelj – Public Domain

You might not fish them in the same way you would fish shrimp, herring, or mackerel, but barracuda find still find their way onto rods and lines. These fish are not commercially important, and you’re not likely to find them on the menu, but they do serve another human purpose. Barracuda are an extremely popular target for sport fishers because of the tremendous amount of fight they put up. Like swordfish and marlin, barracuda are not easy to fish. This makes them a favorite of game anglers.

4. They Look Like Sea Snakes… With Fins and Teeth

Another incredible barracuda fact is that barracudas are long and tubular. They resemble nothing so much as streamlined snakes with fins and massive, exposed teeth. Barracudas are blue gray to brown in color, with whitish undersides. One of their most distinctive features is the dark blotches along their backs and the lower half of their sides, similar to tiger stripes. Young barracudas can actually change colors and patterns depending on where they are in the ocean, but adults are pretty much stuck with the look they have.

5. Barracudas have Unique Teeth

Barracuda hovering in the strong current at the Paradise Reef, Cozumel
Uniquely, barracudas have two types of teeth; large, sharp fangs, and many smaller teeth meant for gripping and shredding.

©Laban712 – Public Domain

Barracudas have wicked looking teeth. These teeth, coupled with their robust underbites, make for a deadly bite. Barracudas have a mouthful of long, needle-like teeth meant for grabbing onto slippery fish. While those large teeth hold onto the fish, the shorter, triangular teeth shear the flesh. Barracudas don’t swallow fish whole, instead, they rely on their teeth to cut them up into manageable chunks before swallowing.

6. They Sometimes Bite Humans

An incredible barracuda fact is that barracudas occasionally bite humans. Humans don’t fit their prey image, so the barracuda aren’t attacking for food. Rather, they bite either by mistake or in self defense. The majority of barracuda bites occur when barracudas try to take dead or struggling fish from spear fishers.

7. Barracudas are Incredible Hunters

Bigeye Barracuda (Sphyraena forsteri)
Few fish look like barracudas. They’re aggressive predators within their natural domains, and even bite humans on occasion.

©Andre Engels / Creative Commons

Barracudas are built for speed. That, combined with their fantastic eyesight and sharp teeth, enables them to hunt large fish. Barracudas can swim up to 36 mph, when they hit a fish, they’re capable of actually biting it in half.

8. They’re Eaten by Bigger Fish

Another incredible barracuda fact is that these fearsome fish have few natural predators as adults. Many fish eat baby barracudas, but only the largest hunt the adults. Adult barracudas’ few predators include goliath grouper, tuna, and sharks.

9. Baby Barracudas are Tiny

Young Yellowtail Barracuda shoaling off Dahab, Egypt
Scientists don’t know much about when or where barracudas have their babies, but they do know that fry (baby fish) hatch from eggs.

©Alan Slater / Creative Commons

Scientists might not know exactly where barracuda spawning takes place, but they do know that eggs float on the ocean currents. Upon hatching, the larval barracuda fry make their way to shallow waters with plenty of aquatic plants to hide in. After a few weeks of maturing, they grow to about half an inch long, and look like tiny versions of their parents. But, they won’t leave the protected estuaries and mangroves of their birth until they’re at least a year old.

10. They have Parasites

It might seem strange, but one of the most incredible barracuda facts is that barracudas are home to multiple parasites. Many of the ocean’s creatures play host to one parasite or another, including blue whales, sperm whales, silky sharks, and lemon sharks. But barracudas can get tapeworms, flukes, round worms, and even fish lice. Ectoparasites (those that live outside the cuda) include marlin suckers, pilotfish, sharksuckers, and slender suckerfish.


The Featured Image

Aggressive Animal: Barracuda
Barracuda swimming in the ocean. Barracudas are adept hunters with few predators because of their speed and size.
© aquapix/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

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