The marine world is full of amusement. With adventure and new discoveries, even after years of advancement, there’s still so much which is a secret to us. As this amusement continues, let us unravel a very popular and common fish breed found in water “Sheelavu fish also known as cheelavu or Sheela fish”. We have collated information about the Sheelavu.
Let’s Go Back at The Traces
Nearly all warm oceans are home to Sphyraena barracuda, also known as giant barracuda. With the exception of the Eastern Pacific, they are exclusively absent from the tropical areas of the Indo-Pacific, Atlantic, and Northern Hemisphere oceans. As far as Bermuda in the Western Atlantic, they have been discovered in the Red Sea. Up till Massachusetts in the north, they have been spotted.
One Fish has Many Names:
Barracuda is the English name for Sheela fish. It is a sizable predatory species of the genus Sphyraena and class Actinopterygii that goes by the short name Cuda. Barracuda fish is referred to as Sheela fish in Tamil. As well as Sheela in Tamil, Jellow in Telugu, Kanaki in Kannada, Thinda or cheelavu in Malayalam, and Ghalse in Hindi, barracudas are also known by several regional names in India.
Here’s a table for a better understanding to know more about the Sheela Fish:
Price in India
With a few exceptions, Sheela fish is not readily available throughout much of India (Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Bengal). Depending on availability, it can cost anywhere between Rs. 500 and 2500. The price of sheelavu, cheelavu, or Sheela fish in Kerala is Rs. 550.00 per kilogram (average rate). But depending on where you shop, you can find something cheaper or a little more expensive.
Similar to piranhas, barracudas have massive, conspicuous teeth with sharp edges and fan-like shapes that are positioned in sockets within their large jaws. Many species have underbites and big, pointy heads. Their gill coverings are coated in tiny scales and lack spines. With the front fin having five spines and the posterior fin having one spine and nine soft rays, the two dorsal fins are widely spaced apart. Similar in size to the anal fin and located above it is the posterior dorsal fin. Straight from head to tail, the lateral line is distinct. Above the pelvic fins, in a groove, is the spinous dorsal fin, which is usually retracted.
Sheela fish’s black patches
The caudal fin is somewhat forked, has a double-curved posterior edge, and is attached to a sturdy peduncle. Low on the sides is the pectoral fins. Due to the swim bladder’s size, cruising or standing still requires little energy. The upper body of a barracuda is typically dark grey, dark green, white, or blue, with silvery sides and a chalky-white belly. The coloration of different species varies somewhat. Some species have a row of darker crossbars or sporadic black patches on either side.
Difference between Barracuda and Freshwater pike
They might have yellowish or dusky fins. Although barracudas are typically found in oceans, some species, like the big barracuda, can also be found in brackish water. Barracuda and freshwater pike are commonly contrasted because of their resemblance, however, the main distinction between the two is that the former has two distinct dorsal fins and a forked tail, while the latter does not.
About Sheelavu Fish’s Behavior and Diet
Barracudas are vicious, opportunistic predators that catch their prey off guard with brief bursts of speed up to 27 mph (43 km/h). Most species’ adults are more or less solitary, while young and immature fish often gather together. Fish are the main prey for barracudas (which may include some as large as themselves). Jacks, grunts, groupers, snapper, small tunas, mullets, killifishes, herrings, and anchovies are typical prey fish, and they are frequently simply snapped in half.
By pulling chunks out of their larger prey, they can kill and swallow it. Additionally, they appear to eat smaller species of food that are placed in front of them. Barracuda species are frequently observed vying for prey with mackerel, needlefish, and occasionally even dolphins.
A challenging fighter
Typically, barracudas can be seen swimming in saltwater in pursuit of schools of fish that feed on plankton. They are challenging for prey to notice due to their silver color and elongated bodies, and they are extremely harder to spot when viewed directly. When they are out hunting, barracudas rely largely on their vision. They tend to notice anything with an unusual color, reflection, or movement when hunting.
Lightning bolt speed
A barracuda can move with quick bursts of speed to attack its victim before it can flee thanks to the combination of its long tail and matching anal and dorsal fins. Barracudas typically charge head-first into schools of fish, biting at them with their jaws. As they get older, barracudas often swim by themselves. Sometimes, though, they tend to stick with the group. Sometimes, barracudas will swim in packs. In this situation, they can move fish schools into small spaces or guide them into shallow water so they can easily graze on them.
Can a Sheela Fish be Kept as a Pet?
Sheela Fish (Sphyraena barracuda), the Great Barracuda, is frequently portrayed as a menacing open ocean predator and is infrequently considered as a possible aquarium fish. Despite having rows of serrated teeth and a maximum length of 76 inches, or well over six feet, these fish can be successfully housed in aquariums at home.
The Great Barracuda needs a lot of water, so the tanks must hold at least 1000 gallons. The Great Barracuda will also require a lot of food frequently given its size. If you want to pet a Sheela fish at home, one pro tip some people follow is that they prefer to feed them less food. So, that there’s size doesn’t increase too much.
Interesting Facts about Sheela Fish
1. They have a distinct and successful hunting technique.
Barracudas have the capacity to bite right through their prey, unlike much other piscivorous fish that depend on quick, strong suction to obtain food.
Their method of hunting, ram-biting, allows them to take on prey that is too big to eat all at once. This greatly improves the amount of energy they can get from each attack compared to predators of a comparable size that suction-feed.
2. A vicious ambush predator, Barracudas
Barracudas have a body that resembles a torpedo, a crescent-shaped tail fin, and are designed for quick bursts of speed. They can quickly increase from a standstill to their highest speed of 36 mph (58 kph), closing the gap and capturing their victim before it has a chance to react.
3. They can remain undetected
Barracudas have countershading, which allows them to blend into both the ocean below them and the surface above by having darker colors on the top half of their bodies and lighter colors on their bellies.
From the perspective of its prey, the barracuda is practically undetectable as it approaches due to its silvered flanks that further disguise it and its snake-like body that, when viewed head-on, creates an exceedingly small profile.
- Barracudas are fond of eating
A barracuda’s perception of food is only really constrained by its size, and they are more than capable of taking on anything that is nearly their own size.
Little fish are also not safe; even if they are not worth the energy to actively seek, barracudas will gladly snare any little fry that erroneously ventures into the dangerous area.
- They hunt with their eyes
Due to their keen vision, barracudas are attracted to the silvery flashes and quick movements of their prey. During the chase, they are able to precisely track a single fast-moving fish amid a school of hundreds and land their blows with lethal accuracy.
- Some creatures are experts at night.
The sawtooth barracuda (S. putnamae) and yellowmouth barracuda (S. viridensis) are two species that have evolved specifically for nighttime hunting. They can see their prey perfectly in the dark, when their helpless targets are at a serious disadvantage, thanks to their extraordinarily huge, highly sensitive eyes.
- Their teeth are deadly weapons
Barracudas have outstanding sets of specialized cutting and impaling teeth, as well as strong jaw muscles.
They simply bite their food in half when facing anything that is too large for them to ingest in one meal due to the enormous shearing power produced by their bite.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Can Sheela Fish attack humans?
Barracudas frequently mistake scuba divers for powerful predators and follow them in an effort to attract prey.
Q. Is Sheela fish (Barracudas) poisonous to humans?
Barracuda are commonly caught and eaten by people all around the world, however, larger species cannot be eaten by people because they bioaccumulate toxins from their prey.
Q. How popular Barracudas for hunting?
Barracudas are well-liked among anglers who catch them for sport as game fish. In close proximity to where they live, they are also consumed as fillets or steaks.
Q. How old Barracudas live?
Great barracudas are big fish that can grow to be over five feet long and weigh more than 100 pounds. In the wild, they can live for about 14 years. There aren’t many predators that can catch and consume barracudas because of their size and speed.
Q. What’s the color of Sheela fish (Barracudas)
The dorsum and upper side of the big barracuda’s body are brownish or blue-grey, while the sides and belly are white. The sides have a greenish cast that fades to silvery.
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