Today we will talk about this unique animal that many fear and, if I’m honest, I don’t know why.
I can tell you that one of the best shows I have seen in Ibiza has not been the party of a nobody, but a huge bank of barracudas swimming in a circle in La Mariana, a sunken fish farm that we find between Ibiza and Formentera. I’ll tell you more about it a few lines later.
What is behind this animal that has such a bad reputation?
For those of us who are divers, and at the same time Disney fans and have seen the movie Finding Nemo, we come to the conclusion that it leaves the barracuda very bad. In these movies the barracuda plays the bad guy, like sharks in Hollywood movies. But are they really as fierce as they want to show us?
We can say that there are 27 different species of barracuda, that this species is at the top of the food chain of the oceans and that, together with sharks, they form the group of super predators. The reality is that more is ignored about this animal than what is known about it.
Today we will dedicate ourselves to breaking this myth about barracudas and their misunderstood dangerousness.
To begin with, we are going to tell you that before divers were recommended not to wear any shiny item such as belt buckles or any other metallic instrument, to avoid attracting barracudas and being attacked by these «fearsome» animals.
This danger is far from reality, although it should be clarified that the few attacks on human beings were related to divers who hunted by lungs and who, because they had a bleeding fish in their hands, suffered barracuda attacks. Therefore, these attacks were not explicitly directed at them.
This reminds me of what happens with sharks. Many believe that they are hunters of human beings when in fact, most of the recorded attacks have been to surfers, when they are mistaken for their prey, those that are in their menu, such as seals.
For me there is nothing more beautiful than diving with barracudas, it is very common that they accompany you in a small part of your dive, watching carefully your movements, and I think that this behavior is due to the simple curiosity of this little animal.
There is nothing in the sea as hydrodynamic as a barracuda. The length of these voracious fish ranges from 45 cm for the smaller species to 1.80 meters for the larger ones. Equipped with a sharp row of teeth and robust fins, this fish can reach breakneck speeds on short distances, ideal for surprise hunting. A burst of its powerful tail can accelerate from 0 to 90 km / h in an instant.
When compared to sharks, which travel miles in search of their prey, barracudas tend to remain immobile for long periods of time. Their most common prey are usually sardines, bogas, mullets, mackerels, horse mackerel, silversides and even their own young. They are so good hunters that they can detect their prey in murky waters since they have a system to capture the vibrations of other living beings when moving in the water.
Unfortunately they are not always successful. It is very common to see fish bitten by barracudas and that managed to escape, carrying on their back, for life, the mark of the attack. Occasionally, if a barracuda finds prey too large for it, it will stand some distance away and begin to make a clicking noise, which it produces by violently closing its jaws and clashing its teeth. This behavior, which could appear to be a threat, is believed to be a warning to other barracudas in the area, a kind of call to come to the banquet and share the food.
Very little is known about its reproduction. Some say they lay their eggs in spring when temperatures are hottest, while others say they can lay their eggs all year long, except for the coldest winter months. Perhaps it is a tactic to have several spawning patterns and thus favor the prevalence of the species … but this behavior is unknown. Here in the Mediterranean they spawn when the waters rise in temperature, at that moment the male, before returning to the depths of the sea, leaves a maximum of 300,000 fertilized eggs in surface waters and very close to the coast.
When the larvae hatch and hatch from their eggs, they go to shallower places seeking the protection of vegetation and seaweed. At birth, they are only about 80mm in length, and when they reach the size of about 300mm, they will travel to open water. They will reach the sea when they reach about 500 mm and this will be the moment when they will move completely away from their estuaries.
In the waters of Ibiza, barracudas are called espets and we can find basically two species: Shyraena viridensis and Sphyraena sphyraena and they are not considered endangered animals since they do not have many natural predators, they also have in their favor their great capacity to capture and his ability to hunt. Furthermore, the greatest predator on Earth, humans, does not consume them normally.
The first time I saw a barracuda was here, in Ibiza, because it is very easy to see them. What a majestic animal !!! Seeing it, when one goes down into the deep blue, with that stealth swimming, is a very pleasant moment.
I remember it was with the SCUBA IBIZA diving center. It was my first dive on the Mariana platform. As I mentioned before, it was a fish farm dedicated to the fattening of gilthead seabream that sank years ago. This very special wreck is located on the west face of the islet of S´Espardell, about 25 minutes of navigation from the diving center. Without a doubt, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. As I heard some divers say, La Mariana is a science fiction landscape !!! And yes, they were not wrong !!!
At the dive point, we jumped into the water and began to descend. The first thing you find is a wonderful landscape made up of concrete columns and metal structures. One of the most fascinating wrecks I have seen, unique in the world. There we can find innumerable amount of marine species, but without a doubt the show begins when you meet the school of barracudas. You can always see them swimming in circles, going back and forth between the many columns and arches.
They were there, imposing their presence, with that penetrating gaze and observing us carefully, with that grayish-blue color on the top and a silvery-white color on the bottom. Beauties !!! Swimming around us, posing for photographers to photograph, they are excellent models. Although, to be honest, they are not very photogenic. Their powerful jaw and sharp row of teeth do not favor them. Ha ha!!!
Everywhere in the world there are iconic photos. Here in Ibiza we can highlight the sunsets in Es Vedrá and a diver on the Platform surrounded by Barracudas. That’s how they are, highly sought after by their fans.
The next time you come to Ibiza … you have a must stop at SCUBA IBIZA. You know, we will take you diving, to enjoy this incredible seabed and you will live one of the best experiences: An excellent dive surrounded by barracudas !!! After everything I have told you, I hope you appreciate these beautiful creatures knowing that their dangerousness is only a myth, it is simply a bad name. So it only remains to take beautiful photos with them. Be that platform diver surrounded by Barracudas !!! Turn your visit to Ibiza into an iconic dream postcard and a good memory to remember in those days when work overwhelms you.
And when you are on your way to your dive …
Observe the oceans, fix your gaze on the sea, feel it, breathe … they provide us with half the oxygen we breathe … where legends come to life and reality becomes a fable. Unknown worlds, unknown stories, only guarded by a raging and defenseless sea.