The pufferfish is a family of fish, with about 100 species. They are also known as the blowfish, fugu, swellfish, and globefish. They are called the pufferfish because when they are threatened, they puffs up to about twice their normal size by gulping water. In this enlarged state, the pufferfish can swim at only about half their normal speed. Pufferfish are generally believed to be the second-most poisonous vertebrates in the world, after the golden poison frog. They use tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin.
|White-spotted puffer, Arothron hispidus|
Even though pufferfish are poisonous, the meat of some species is eaten in Japan (as 河豚, pronounced 'fugu'), Korea (as 복 bok or 복어 bogeo ), and China (as 河豚 hétún). It is prepared by specially trained chefs who know which parts, and how much of them, are safe to eat.
Some people also keep pufferfish as pets.