St. John Virgin Islands: Barracudas

barracuda (photo by Dean Hulse)
Barracuda (photo by Dean Hulse)

Excerpted from “St. John Beach Guide,” by Gerald Singer
Besides sharks the most feared fish seems to be the barracuda. They are curious and often come alongside a snorkeler and look at them. Barracudas have the disconcerting habit of opening and closing their mouths displaying their sharp teeth and a serious overbite. This motion is not meant to frighten or to warn. It is simply a part of the way they breathe.

Barracudas feed on fish very much smaller than themselves, which would exclude big, fierce-looking human beings.

I personally have never known of anyone getting attacked by a barracuda, and this includes spearfishers and SCUBA divers. But, to stay on the safe side, it would probably be better not to wear shiny jewelry while snorkeling. The theory here is that a visually challenged barracuda or one hunting in murky water might mistake that glittering object for a little fish and go after it.

I’ve never known of this actually happening, but it won’t hurt to take this precaution. My rule of thumb is that although anything is possible, not everything is probable and shark and barracuda attacks on Virgin Island snorkelers to me fall into the realm of overwhelmingly improbable and should not be a cause for concern.

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