Increase of Puffer Fish in Arabian Sea as Predators Vanishes

Published on: 12 Mar, 2013
Published under: General Kerala News, Thiruvananthapuram District News

10 March 2013

Since 2007 the rate of growth of puffer fish has increased in Arabian Sea and it could be due owing to a decline in the population of top predators in the marine ecosystem, a study conducted by scientists at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute indicates.

The study carried out by K.S. Mohamed and others says the increased biomass of puffer fishes from 2007 signalled the beginning of a ‘trophic cascade’ in the Arabian Sea, marked by reciprocal changes in the population of predator and prey species. It says the loss of predatory control had a top-down effect on the population of puffer fish.Analysis of stomach content of the major predators in the Arabian Sea ecosystem showed that the puffer was the preferred prey for the cobia and different species of catfish, both characterised by extraordinarily wide mouths, enabling them to gulp down a bloated puffer with ease.

The study assumes that the drastic depletion of catfish population has played only a minor role in puffer fish catch increase. Other predators of the puffer fish like sharks, kingseer, and skipjack tuna are not likely to have exercised any influence over puffer fish biomass in the coastal ecosystem.

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