The capture of deadly Japanese pufferfish in the waters of Crimea is causing concern for fishermen and scientists alike. Sharon Reich reports.
Deadly Japanese pufferfish have mysteriously turned up in Crimea. The fish, which are usually found in tropical waters, were caught by fisherman in Sevastopol. Researchers at the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas in Crimea, are investigating the deadly catch and how they made their way to Eastern Europe. SOUNDBITE: Alexander Boltachev, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas, saying (Russian): "What's interesting about this fish is that first of all, it is a Lessepsian migrant, so a fish that has migrated through the Suez Canal from the Indian Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea about 10 years ago and is now very abundant. It's been found in the Aegean Sea and now, literally a couple of days ago, (it was found) here in our Sevastopol Bay." The inflated fish, which are called Fugu in Japan, fill their bodies with water or air if they're threatened. When this happens their organs fill with a poison that is more deadly than cyanide. Researchers in Crimea believe the fish also pose a threat to the local fish population. SOUNDBITE: Alexander Boltachev, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas, saying (Russian): "It is a rather large species ... and in addition to that, it is very toxic. It highly rivals the local species for food in the Mediterranean Sea. So it raises concerns among scientists, and also fishermen." While learning how to prepare Fugu is a special trade in Japan, it's not likely Crimean restaurants will be serving up the deadly catch anytime soon. Researchers plan to study the fish and figure out how they have acclimated to the conditions of the Black Sea.