Twitter followers save clueless angler from eating poisonous fish

Twitter user “Narathiga” (@narathiga) from Japan went fishing and made this enormous catch. Considering that he’s not an experienced angler he was quite proud of himself and immediately took a photo. He declared joyfully on his Twitter feed that he was going to make “Kimo-jyoju” (a liver-soy sauce) and enjoy the fish for dinner.

"I caught a huge filefish!!! Will be making Kimo-iyoju and eating it!!!" wrote Narathiga excitedly.

Immediately after this post however, he received a flood of replies from people who saw the fish, warning him of potential death! What could possibly be dangerous about this “filefish”?


"Don’t eat it!"

"Poison! It has poison! Don’t eat it!"


It turns out that this fish, belonging to the Monacanthide family of filefishes, was no ordinary filefish which is commonly eaten in Japan. This one in particular was an aluterus scriptus or a “scrawled filefish,” a highly poisonous kind. The scrawled filefish commonly lives in tropical waters around the world, but in recent years their habitat has been moving north under the influence of global warming.

The problem is a substance called “palytoxin” that is found in the internal organs of this fish. It is a deadly poison that is toxic to all animals and is supposedly 70 times stronger than the poison found in pufferfish.

Symptoms of poisoning include vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels), muscle pain, paralysis, convulsions, contraction of the cardiac muscles, breathing difficulties and, depending on the severity of the poisoning, arrhythmia, shock and kidney failure leading to death. The onset of symptoms is rapid and death usually follows quickly — in just half a day in the worst cases. Even if the poisoning is mild, it may take weeks to fully recover.

Other fishes that have palytoxin include knobsnout parrotfish and trunkfish.

Veteran fishermen know about it, but many newcomers to the hobby do not and may very well enjoy “Kimo-jyoyu” on the spot! 


After sending the warnings, Narithiga's followers waited anxiously for some kind of response. When several hours passed without a word, they began to fear the worst — that he had not received the messages in time and had died of poisoning. But when this tweet appeared, they were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief:

"I read the messages and released the fish back into the ocean.

We hadn’t killed it, so it swam away.

I was out of range and my batteries ran out and I apologize for the late followup.

I’m sorry for stoking any fears"

Many were relieved to hear that the warning had reached him and that he was safe. What would have happened if he hadn’t posted the photo online? In a time when many question the value of social media, this story shows just how useful it can be. For Narathiga it was a life saver!


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