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Tetraodontidae is a family of primarily marine and estuarine fish. The family includes many familiar species which are variously called puffers, balloonfish, blowfish, bubblefish, globefish, swellfish, toadfish, and toadies. They are morphologically similar to the closely related porcupinefish, which have large conspicuous spines (unlike the small, almost sandpaper-like spines of Tetraodontidae). The scientific name, Tetraodontidae, refers to the four large teeth, fused into an upper and lower plate, which are used for crushing the shells of crustaceans and mollusks, and red worms, their natural prey. Puffer fish are the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world, the first being a Golden Poison Frog. The skin and certain internal organs of many tetraodontidae are highly toxic to humans, but nevertheless the meat of some species is considered a delicacy in both Japan (as fugu) and Korea (as bok-uh). If one is caught while fishing, it is recommended that thick gloves are worn to avoid poisoning and getting bitten when removing the hook. The puffers's unique and distinctive natural defenses are a compensation for their particular form of locomotion. Puffers use a combination of pectoral, dorsal, anal, and caudal fins for propulsion that make them highly maneuverable but very slow, and therefore comparatively easy targets for predators. As a defense mechanism, puffers have the ability to inflate rapidly, filling their extremely elastic stomachs with water (or air when outside the water) until they are almost spherical in shape. Thus, a hungry predator stalking the puffers may suddenly find itself facing what seems to be a much larger fish and pause, giving the puffers an opportunity to retreat to safety. When lifted out of water there is a risk that puffers inflate with air. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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