Botete | @natmuseumbohol via Photo by: Jasmine Meren

Botete (Spotted Puffer – Arothron Meleagris)

Spotted Puffer (Arothron Meleagris) is a remarkable fish found in the Bohol Sea. It is locally known as Botete.

The “Botete” or Spotted Puffer belongs to the family Tetraodontidae and occurs in tropical waters of Indian and the Indo-Pacific. They are solitary and live in rocky coral reefs, coastal bays, estuaries, and mangrove areas at depths ranging from 3 to 50 meters.

They feed on algae, detritus, mollusks, and other invertebrates including the #CrownofThorns starfish (Acanthaster spp.) which can decimate reefs during outbreaks. Puffers have spiny, elongated bodies that they can inflate like a balloon as a warning display to turn off any predators.

Species from this family are listed as the world’s most dangerous organisms when eaten. Their internal organs and even skin contain toxins several times more lethal than cyanide. Local governments have issued stern warnings against the consumption of this fish after several incidents of deaths in the Visayas.

In Japan, only people with special training and even a license can prepare an edible dish out of a puffer, and it is an expensive delicacy there.

Marine (love) life trivia:

Puffers may be dangerous but their courtship display is some of the most intricate in the marine realm. In a recent discovery, a species of puffer was found to be behind the decades-old mysterious geometric circles found sculpted on the sandy bottoms of the islands of Japan. This puffer, named Torquigener albomaculosus, is unique as it is the only known species capable of forming elaborate rippled patterns to woo their females and spawn.

Source: Text by NMP Bohol with contributions from Jasmine Meren | NMP Zoology Division

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