Poisonous Fishes

  • Laith A. Jawad


The term ‘ichthyosarcotoxism’ means ‘poisoning by the flesh of fishes’. It covers many kinds of poisoning caused by the ingestion of any portion of a fish, but not that caused by putrescence due to bacterial action. The fishes most commonly involved are those that live in the tropical and subtropical waters. Ichthyosarcotoxism has been known for a long time in the Red Sea, in the Caribbean and in the whole Indo-Pacific area. Hieroglyphics dating back to about 2700 bc mention the toxicity of a particular Red Sea Tetrodon. Alexander the Great, during his conquering expeditions in the East around 300 bc, forbade his soldiers to eat certain species of fish. Since then, there have been many records concerning ichthyosarcotoxism, the clinical picture has become clearer, the number of species implicated has increased considerably, and it has been possible to determine their geographic distribution with greater accuracy.

Ichthyosarcotoxism produces very polymorphous clinical syndromes in humans resulting from the ingestion of toxic fish belonging to many species. The patients’ reactions to such intoxication depend largely on the quantity of toxins ingested, which itself varies according to the species, the individual and the tissues involved.

In this chapter, an account of venomous fish species living in the east and southern coasts of the Arabian Peninsula is given. The fish species fall in nine types of toxic groups according to the type of toxin they bear in their body. This chapter is divided into two parts. The first part deals with background of the type of toxin, causative agent, symptoms, treatment and prevention. The second part deals with fish account, which includes identification, distribution, habitat, biology, economic value and conservation status.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laith A. Jawad
    • 1
  1. 1.ManukauNew Zealand

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