Puffer fish wash up on False Bay coastline

A puffer fish on Fish hoek Beach.

Almost 200 puffer fish, which carry a toxin that is potentially lethal to humans and animals, have washed up along beaches on the False Bay coastline, according to the City of Cape Town.

In a statement last week, the City said more than 80 puffer fish had washed ashore, at Long Beach, in Simon’s Town, on Wednesday March 30. Penguin rangers from Seaforth collected and bagged the fish for proper disposal.

On Thursday March 31, another 116 puffer fish washed ashore at beaches along the False Bay coastline, including Muizenberg Beach. They were also collected and bagged, according to the statement.

“Residents and visitors are reminded not to handle the puffer fish. Those walking their dogs should ensure that their pets do not come in contact with the fish as it carries the neurotoxin tetradotoxin and should not be consumed. The City will keep monitoring the beaches in the far south in the coming days and will remove the fish, should more wash ashore,” the City statement said.

In March last year, the City’s solid waste department collected around 70 bags of puffer fish from False Bay coastlines weighing about 200kg and said it was unclear what caused the fish to wash ashore.

However, Two Oceans Aquarium curator Tinus Beukes told the Echo at the time that the puffer fish were washing up due to the sudden cooling of the water in False Bay.

He said they were not the only fish affected but were the more noticeable because seagulls avoided eating them as they were poisonous (“Temperature drop causes puffer fish to wash up,” Echo April 1, 2021).