Lavos spawn ten years later?
August 31, 2009 2:07 PM   Subscribe

What is this spiky fish carcass?

When I was in the Outer Banks a month ago, there were these spiky fish shells all over the beach. Here's a picture. I looked around on Google and Wikipedia for pufferfish, blowfish, porcupine fish, etc. before finding one site that had a similar picture claiming it was a porcupine fish. That site was the only one though; the other search results had rounder or otherwise different fish.

So, do you know what this thing is? Bonus question: do you know why a bunch of these would be washed up on the beach? I go to the Outer Banks fairly often and have never seen these before.
posted by jalexc to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, definitely a species of porcupine puffer fish. Many of them are quite square when they're not puffed up.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:13 PM on August 31, 2009

Oh, and if you see any again, don't touch them. Even dead they may contain tetrodotoxin, which is nasty.

Guesses as to the reason these would be washed up: possibly a storm; possibly caught by a trawler and then dumped.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:16 PM on August 31, 2009

I saw a few of these at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores last week, and they were identified as burrfish. The spines are shorter and less pointed than the porcupine fish.
posted by Dean King at 2:59 PM on August 31, 2009

It looks like a spiny box puffer (youtube link of a live fish swimming in a home tank). It is possible that the recent tropical storm activity in the Atlantic had something to to with them washing up on the beach.
posted by macska at 3:00 PM on August 31, 2009

In North Florida we call them Spiny Boxfish, but common names can vary widely (as evidenced here). The species name is Chilomycterus schoepfi.
posted by Jemstar at 7:11 PM on August 31, 2009

You get favorited for a Chrono Trigger reference.

(One time I named all of my characters some variation of the name Lavos)
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:27 PM on August 31, 2009

Atlantic side or bay side?
The Pamlico River estuary is known for massive fish kills from deoxygenation caused
by phosphate and nitrogen over-nutrition.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:52 PM on August 31, 2009

Thanks for identifying what this was. It was really creepy seeing them all over the beach.

As for why they washed up, it was oceanside, and it was also in mid-June (not a month ago like I said in my question), so it wasn't related to the hurricanes that were just passing through. Wikipedia says there was a Tropical Depression One that was a few hundred miles off the coast of the Outer Banks two weeks before I was there, I'm guessing that might have been it.
posted by jalexc at 7:07 AM on September 1, 2009

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