Among the creatures in the ocean’s depths, two fish reign as frightening predators: the barracuda and the blue marlin. Barracuda are torpedo-shaped ray-finned fish with aggressive behavior that places them near the top of the food chain. Blue Marlins are large, fast fish present in the largest oceans of the world that have a recognizable speared upper jaw and striking cobalt blue coloring.
Comparing a Barracuda and a Blue Marlin
|Size||3 to 7 feet long|
20 to 50 pounds
|11 to 14 feet long|
200 to 400 pounds
|Speed and Movement Type||27 to 30 miles per hour||50+ miles per hour|
|Defenses||Fast swimming, sharp teeth, and a sleek body.||Sharp bill on its upper jaw.|
|Offensive Capabilities||Surprises its prey.||Culls and pierces through groups of fish.|
|Predatory Behavior||Swim fast and catch prey in jaws.||Spear prey with bill.|
What Are the Key Differences Between a Barracuda and a Blue Marlin?
Barracuda and blue marlin remain different types of fish: the barracuda is a ray-finned fish while the blue marlin is a billfish. Furthermore, the barracuda’s scales make it almost camouflage with its environment while the blue marlin’s size and striking color profile is more ostentatious.
These fish also have an important similarity: they’re both apex predators, meaning nearly nothing sits above them in the food chain.
What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between a Barracuda and a Blue Marlin?
When judging a contest between two kings of the deep sea, it’s important to keep several factors in mind for a fair competition.
Barracuda and a Blue Marlin: Size
Barracuda will vary in size depending on the species. Of the 18 different species of barracuda, only a few are classified as “huge,” and the rest are relatively small and harmless to humans. The great barracuda, the largest species, can grow up to nearly 10 feet in length — though most mature great barracuda range between three and seven feet in length. Not only are barracuda long, they’re heavier than you might think. It’s not uncommon for a great barracuda to weigh somewhere between 20 and 50 pounds.
On average, female barracuda grow to be larger than their male counterparts. The longest barracuda ever recorded measured 9.8 feet long. The heaviest barracuda recorded weighed a whopping 103 pounds. For the intent of this deep sea battle, the article pits a great barracuda against a blue marlin.
The blue marlin’s spear-carrying upper jaw wouldn’t be as terrifying if the fish weren’t also one of the largest in the world. Coming in at an average of 11 feet and 200 to 400 pounds, blue marlins dwarf barracuda in a sheer numbers comparison. Like barracuda, the blue marlin females tend to outgrow blue marlin males.
Blue marlins can grow much bigger than their average size. The largest recorded blue marlin was about 14 feet in length and nearly 2,000 pounds.
Barracuda and a Blue Marlin: Speed and Movement
Both a barracuda and a blue marlin remain built for speed; their bodies have sleek designs to make cutting through water and capturing their prey easier.
A barracuda can reach speeds of up to 27 to 36 miles per hour, which is especially impressive for the smaller species of barracuda. Their speed remains one of their assets when hunting; barracuda rely on the element of surprise and lay in wait for a meal to pass before overrunning prey.
Blue marlins again blow barracuda out of the water with their heart-pounding speeds of nearly 60 miles an hour. Largely regarded as one of the fastest fish in the ocean, blue marlins hunt their prey by swimming through schools of tuna (or mackerel) at full speed, stunning many, and then circling back to enjoy the spoils of their hard work.
Barracuda and a Blue Marlin: Defenses
They may not look like they have much in the way of defense mechanisms, but barracuda bodies are expertly designed to avoid capture and evade any predators that may threaten them. These defense mechanisms include:
- Fast swimming speeds to quickly remove themselves from dangerous situations.
- Sharp teeth are used to bite and break vertebrates.
- A thin and flexible body that allows the barracuda to enter small hiding places or slip through other animals’ slower, larger movements.
Conversely, the blue marlin’s defense mechanism sits squarely on its face. Its upper jaw, elongated into a sharp bill, has both hunting and defense uses. Like a sword, the blue marlin can use its bill to fend off predators.
Because both fish are apex predators, they don’t become prey very often. However, both remain targeted as trophy catches for avid fishermen.
Barracuda and a Blue Marlin: Offensive Capabilities
Similar to their defensive strategies, both the barracuda and the blue marlin use their bodies to trap, catch, and eat prey.
The barracuda’s fast speeds and sleek, nearly-camouflage body enable it to hide in plain sight and surprise passing fish, which it will devour to its content. The blue marlin uses its sharp bill to cut or pierce its prey.
Barracuda and a Blue Marlin: Predatory Behavior
Both barracuda and blue marlin remain solitary fish; only in certain situations will either choose to live or hunt alongside a small school of their peers.
Thanks to the barracuda’s coloring, it can swim freely in open, clear water looking for schools of fish. Other fish have trouble seeing a barracuda, especially from head-on, and usually fall victim to its short burst of speed as it cuts through the school, snapping its jaws left and right to capture prey in its teeth. When barracuda do work with a few of its friends, it can herd schools of fish into shallow water without an escape — allowing the group of barracuda a hearty binge.
Blue marlin also target schools of fish and use their bills to injure or kill their unlucky victims. When entering the school of fish, marlins whip their head side-to-side in an effort to stun or hurt as many fish as possible. The blue marlin then returns to eat the fish it decimated.
Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Barracuda and a Blue Marlin?
Without a doubt, the blue marlin would win in a fight between itself and even the biggest great barracuda. Blue marlins outpace barracuda in size, length, and swimming speed. The only advantage a barracuda has over a blue marlin is their ability to hide — and a blue marlin’s sharp bill may be able to reach or cut a barracuda in its hiding place.
Fortunately for the barracuda, blue marlins prefer bluewater — the deep outer ocean — to the barracudas’ homes in shallow seagrass, coral reefs, and mangroves.
Another Animal That Could Take Down a Barracuda: Barracuda vs. Shark
Barracuda are still aggressive, stealthy predators that would protect themselves when threatened. In their ecosystems, barracuda remain apex predators, but younger great barracuda (or different, smaller species of barracuda) may become prey for large sharks, tuna, or groupers.
Winner by a Nautical Mile: the Blue Marlin
The blue marlin has the speed, strength, and weight behind it to come out as the winner in a head-to-head between itself and the barracuda. Learn more about the blue marlin’s diet, behavior, and habitat, or discover how a blue marlin would fare against other killer marine creatures.
The photo featured at the top of this post is ©
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