Oceanic Puffer

Oceanic Puffer, Lagocephalus lagocephalus

The Oceanic Puffer, Lagocephalus lagocephalus, whose common Spanish name is botete oceánico, and known locally as botete, is a species in the Puffer or Tetraodontidae Family, known collectively as botetes in Mexico. Globally, there are ten seven species in the genus Lagocephalus, two of which are found in Mexican waters, one from the Pacific and this species from both the Atlantic and the Pacific, making it one of very few fishes that are found in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Oceanic Puffers have elongated bodies with a depth that is 21 to 25% of standard length. Their head and upper body are dark blue green with gray brown tones. Their sides are silver with black spots and their undersides are white. Their anal and pectoral fins are two-toned (upper third transparent, lower two-thirds dark) and their caudal and dorsal fins are dark. Their head is large, projecting, and blunt, with large elevated eyes. They have a small mouth and a long snout that is longer than the distance between their eyes. They have strong powerful teeth. Their pointed anal and dorsal fins are mid-sized and similar in shape and location, have short bases, and are found well back on their body. They have a slender caudal fin base and a slightly concave caudal fin with a longer lower lobe. Their body skin is smooth with the exception of small spines that run from the chin to the anus on their ventral side. Overall their skin is tough and scaleless.

The Oceanic Puffers are oceanic pelagic fish that are also found in estuaries from the surface to depths of 3,300 feet. They reach a maximum length of 61 cm (24 inches). They are a wide ranging species found in all global tropical and subtropical waters. They are a rare poorly studied species and very limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Oceanic Puffer are found in all waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific, with the exception that they are absent from the northern portions of the Sea of Cortez.

The Oceanic Puffer is an easy fish to identify due to its unique markings and cannot be confused with any other species.

The Oceanic Puffers are not normally taken via hook and line and the majority of collections are made by trawl nets. I have seen this fish in pristine condition regurgitated or in the stomach contents of Dorado. The amount, if any, of tetrodotoxin contained in their bodies and the related concerns about the potential health threat to humans from eating this fish is unknown. Until this is well documented I do not recommend this species for human consumption.

Oceanic Puffer

Oceanic Puffer, Lagocephalus lagocephalus. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, December 2008. Length: 40 cm (16 inches).