Mar 062021

I have wanted to go fishing for a long time now and yesterday was a perfect day for it, with temperatures in the mid-60s and lots of sunshine. Terry didn’t quite feel up to going out on the boat or the kayaks, so I went down to Anchor Hardware, a mile or two from the house, and bought some shrimp, the preferred bait around here. Then I went down to our fishing dock and spent a couple of hours just enjoying being outside with a fishing rod in my hand.

You never know what you’re going to catch here. I have seen people haul in everything from ladyfish to sea trout, snapper, catfish, rays, and even a shark a time or two. This time around, for me, it was puffer fish. On my first cast, I caught this puffer fish, which was a new species for me. It wasn’t all that big, maybe eight or ten inches, and put up a bit of a fight, but not too much.

I was fishing with two different rods, and about the time I got the hook out of the first puffer and put it back in the water, one was hitting on the other line. I pulled it in, took the hook out, returned it to the water and put fresh shrimp on each line, and cast them out. Within about five minutes, I caught another one, and then another one, and another one, and another one. I quit counting at about eight or nine.

If you’re not familiar with this critter, they have the ability to puff themselves up to two or even three times their normal size, making them hard for most predators to swallow. And that’s probably a good thing, because almost all puffer fish contain something called tetrodotoxin, which makes them taste bad and is often lethal. This includes for humans. According to the Key West Aquarium, tetrodotoxin is up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide, and a single puffer fish carries enough of the stuff to kill 30 adults. And there is no known antidote to their poison.

The Key West aquarium’s website also says that the meat of some puffer fish is considered a delicacy called fugu in Japan. Only specially trained chefs are allowed to prepare it, and one mistake can result in death for a customer. The aquarium’s website says that this happens several times every year in Japan. No thanks, I think I’ll stick to shrimp, cod, haddock, and other fish that won’t kill me.

Besides the puffer fish, I also caught one ray, or more properly, a skate. It was probably ten inches across, but managed to get off the line and escape as I was lifting it out of the water.

We seldom go down to the water without seeing a few dolphins, and this time was no exception. Unfortunately it wasn’t a pleasant experience, although it was fascinating. I heard a lot of splashing in the water and turned to see a large dolphin right next to the dock. I have often seen them jump and roll and do all kinds of acrobatics, but this one was obviously in distress. It kept rolling onto its side or back (it’s on its side in this picture), most often on it’s back, then struggling as it tried to roll back over so it could swim, but never making it. I could see it getting weaker every time it tried, each effort seeming to take everything it had. It was also making a noise I have never heard a dolphin make before, almost a low moaning sound.

And then two other dolphins appeared and started nudging the first one with their snouts and pushing the length of their bodies against it as if they were trying to get it out into deeper water. After a while, they seemed to succeed, but a few minutes later it was back almost under the dock doing the same thing. And again, the other two dolphins showed up and gently nudged it away and out toward the deeper water of the channel that runs up the Intracoastal Waterway. I didn’t see it again after that. I’ve heard of such things before but never actually saw it. Isn’t nature amazing?

We’ve had some hot weather here recently, breaking records for this time of year, and the small canal in our subdivision that sometimes holds as many as thirty manatees has emptied out quite a bit. When Terry and I paddled our kayaks down it last week, we only saw two. Yesterday, not long after the dolphin drama, this manatee came swimming by, apparently headed for the canal.

I didn’t catch anything worth taking home, but that’s okay. As the old saying goes, the worst day fishing is still better than the best day working. But, speaking of working, today is supposed to be a rainy day across the Central Florida coast so I plan to knock out a couple more chapters in my new Tinder Street book.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high the shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  3 Responses to “Puffer Fish And A Distressed Dolphin”

  1. Interesting information about the Puffer Fish, thanks for sharing. I do hope the dolphin listened to his/her friends and stayed out in the deeper waters. Have a blessed day!!!

  2. I live a couple of miles downriver from you at Lighthouse Cove and this morning there was a dead dolphin floating near our dock. Pretty sure it’s the same one.

  3. To your point of nature being amazing if you should watch My Octopus Teacher. You’ll be blown away. That is a guarantee. Netflix.

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