Diving around the sites of Koh Tao gives a great opportunity to encounter 4 different species of barracuda. Davy Jones Locker diving instructor Matt gives us the lowdown on these impressive but sometimes intimidating creatures. Reassuringly they aren’t as fearsome as they look!
“The barracuda is a ray finned fish known for its large size and fearsome appearance. It is a saltwater fish which you can find in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. Habitats range from the Eastern border of the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and Caribbean sea. Divers will find them near the top of the water, near coral reefs and sea grasses.
Snake-like in appearance, their prominent fang-like teeth have sharp edges and they look pretty ferocious. Realistically however, they are unlikely to go for us humans. Distinguishing features include large, pointed heads with an underbite in many species.
In most cases they are dark blue, dark green, white, or grey on the upper body. Usually they have silvery sides and a chalky-white belly. Colouration varies somewhat between species, however for some species irregular and unorganized black spots or a row of darker cross-bars occur on each side. Their fins may be yellowish or dusky. Their habitat is primarily oceans, but certain species, such as the great barracuda, live in brackish water.
Here on Koh Tao we encounter 4 different species. Firstly, the yellow tail and chevron which are largely seen in schools and can be extremely impressive to witness. There is nothing quite like having a school of barracuda circling above your head on a dive. Finally, The Pick Handle and Great barracuda are the other two species, these are normally solitary and can be awesome yet quite menacing to witness. Using the light of a torch on a night dive will often allow divers to see the Great barracuda hunting… don’t play god too much though!”