Sphyraena barracuda
King of the Reef


Life History

Image from Wikimedia CommonsGreat barracudas are found in tropical and subtropical oceans throughout the world, primarily in shallow waters near the coral reef, but are also known to swim out in the open ocean. According to The Angler’s Guide to the US Pacific Coast, barracuda can be found anywhere from the Hawaiian Islands up to Alaska! Barracuda share their habitat with clown fish, sting rays, and star fish, among others.                               

    The life history of these fish has not been studied and recorded well because of the difficulty in following and observing barracuda activities. Barracuda become sexually mature when they are around two years old and engage in external fertilization in open water away from the coral reef. The fertilized eggs are then carried by the ocean tides and currents, spreading barracuda populations to many locations throughout the world. It is still not clear when and how often barracuda actually reproduce, and it is also unknown how long barracuda live. Barracuda larva are less than a quarter of an inch and do not resemble the adult forms, but once the juveniles have reached about half an inch in length (as shown in the picture below) they start to show some of the adult traits and characteristics. Used with permission from FMEL Gallery

    Throughout their lives, barracuda use different coloring patterns to camouflage themselves as protection and to enhance predation. When barracuda are young and small, they are more green or brown in color (as shown above) to blend in with their environment in the shallow, grassy areas near shore. As the juvenile ages, it takes on the more silvery-grey color to match an open water habitat.  Once the barracuda hits adulthood, it does not grow longer but instead continues to grow width-wise throughout the remainder of its life, so adults may weigh up to 38 kg (83 pounds) although most are much smaller. Male and female barracuda look identical and it is impossible to tell the difference just by looking at the outside of their bodies.

Click to read about the Great Barracuda's nutrition!

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