Eating Barry in The Bahamas - Barracuda Fish


Food Guide



So, it turns out that Barry is in fact Barracuda (were we the only people not to know that already?).

Anyway, as delicious as it is, the Barracuda that live in warm, tropical water reefs can, on rare occasions, be poisonous.

The problem lies in a toxin that is produced by some algae growing in warm water reefs (in case you are interested these toxins are called ciguatoxins, and are produced by dinoflagellates).

In general, the smaller fish feed on the algae and when these fish are eaten by predators the toxin builds up in that predator.

The result is bioaccumulation of toxin in the top predators (the same process which leads to the well-documented heavy metals accumulating in fish like salmon and tuna).

Many restaurants in the Bahamas realise the risk, so they actually bring in the bigger fish from colder waters a bit further away, or from areas where the toxic algae do not exist (Florida, for example) - that way you can be more confident that you are not eating the toxin.


Can Ants be used to Detect the Toxin?

One interesting thing we heard, was that some locals use ants as a way of detecting the toxin. What they do is take a small slice of the fish, stir up an ants nest and put the fish down.

If the ants take it into the nest, then the theory goes that the fish is good. If the ants remove the material away from the nest, then that is said to be bad, meaning you should not eat it?

Whether this is true or not, hmmm.... it would need to be confirmed by someone better qualified by us, that's for sure!


We were quite puzzled when we saw 'Barry' on the menu at some of the places we visited in the Bahamas. We became even more perplexed when on each occasion we saw it listed, the menu stated in no uncertain terms that you should only eat Barry at your own risk

Barry - eating Barracuda in the Bahamas comes with an 'eat at your own risk' health warning, due to the possibility of becoming ill with Ciguatera

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