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Barracuda Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

In this lesson we will learn about a fish that is a great hunter, fast swimmer...and a little scary looking too! Continue reading to find out more about the very interesting barracuda.

Tiger of the Sea

If you decide to wear a shiny bracelet while diving in the Caribbean, you might catch the attention of the fast-swimming barracuda, a long, torpedo-shaped fish. Barracuda live in warm tropical waters and are called the 'Tiger of the Sea.' Why do you think that is?

Let's learn more about barracuda to find out.

What Barracuda Look Like

The barracuda's long, thin body makes it an excellent swimmer, up to 25 mph, which is about the speed a car drives on a quiet, neighborhood street. The giant mouth filled with many uneven razor-sharp teeth also makes it a great hunter, like a tiger! Its fangs are in a strong bottom jaw that juts outs farther than the upper jaw, giving it a frightening look.

The long and slender body of the barracuda makes it a fast swimmer.
barracuda

Barracuda are dark green, blue, or grayish-brown and have stripes on top of their bodies, like a tiger, too! Their bellies are always white. Young barracuda can even turn different colors and patterns to blend in with their surroundings.

Many types of barracuda are small, up to 18 inches, which is about as long as your arm. But the great barracuda is three times that size and can grow up to six feet long and weigh 110 pounds. That's as big as an adult human!

Eating Habits

What's the easiest way to catch something? Let it come to you! That's how a barracuda hunts. It stays still in the water, sometimes hiding in the sea grass, deciding which silver fish, small tuna, or anchovy to eat. Then it suddenly attacks. Prey rarely escape the barracuda's strong jaws because some of its teeth are pointed backward, creating a tight trap for its food.

Barracuda have very sharp teeth and a strong jaw.
barracuda teeth

Barracuda are attracted to shiny objects and often hunt fish that have silver or gold scales. If a barracuda ever attacks a human, it's often a mistake caused by the person carrying a shiny knife or wearing shiny jewelry.

Predators

Very few sea animals are large or fast enough to be predators of (able to catch and eat) the adult great barracuda. However, sharks, giant tuna, goliath grouper, and dolphins sometimes eat smaller adult barracuda.

People also enjoy fishing for barracuda, but it's not a good idea to eat the larger ones. These fish give off a poison that causes health problems in humans, like headaches, muscle pain, and high blood pressure.

How Barracuda Behave

Barracuda usually like to be alone. They don't live in families, except when it is time to mate, between April and September.

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