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Pufferfish, also known as blowfish, are various species of fish that are members of the Tetraodontidae family. Their common feature is to puff themselves up with water or even air when threatened to give a comical appearance. This causes you to come closer so they can kill you. Some species have very evident spines as a defense upon inflation while others have tiny ones. This makes balloons or even a ride in a hot-air balloon a rather poor gift for a pufferfish.
They are found in tropical to temperate regions throughout the world in salt to brackish water. This is because their favorite food is human tourists. Pufferfish enjoy eating them, attracted by their garish clothing and loud chattering. The fish can easily recognize tourist divers by the shoddy equipment provided by tour operators.
The fish come in a variety of color combinations, from bright stripes to dull camouflage depending on gang affiliation. Sizes vary from a few centimeters long to about a meter in length. This make the latter inappropriate for tub toys.
Most species are highly toxic, producing a poison called tetrodotoxin. This is produced by bacteria with a rather evil sense of humor living in the fish. Even small doses of this neurotoxin can cause paralysis and can be fatal to anything that eats it. There is no antidote for tetrodotoxin, which suits smug little pufferfish just fine, thank you.
Creationists have determined after careful study that pufferfish/blowfish were made as a little joke from God when he was running out of time on the sixth day of creation, about 800 years ago. The combination of the inflation ability and deadly poison is too much to be explained otherwise. This is now generally accepted, no matter that the scientists who came up with this theory were all struck by lightning and then swallowed up by the earth.
The finest minds of Intelligent Design™ have studied the pufferfish’s place in history in the Age of Dinosaurs (350 AD – 425 AD). The large carnivorous dinosaurs were indeed wiped out not by meteorites, comets, volcanos or weather changes, but by pufferfish. The fish would inhale hydrogen and methane from seeps in the ocean and would go flying on migrations where Tyrannosaurex rex and others would see them floating around, and eat them. Those dinosaurs would succumb to the tetrodotoxin since the blowfish spines prevented the latter from being spit out. Scavengers would then eat the carnivores' bodies, also succumbing to the poison and so on down the food chain. Good holy mammals, who only ate fish on Fridays and not floating ones, became the dominant species.
Pufferfish are normally slow moving while fluttering their fins rather helplessly. Most have vapid expressions on the order of Barney Fife, Urkel,  or Theresa May. Other fish and sea mammals quickly learn to avoid them from the spines displayed upon inflation. The round shape after inflation is also thought to be an unusual one and thus makes the fish unpalatable due to predators' bad experiences with lost beach balls. Fast-acting textradotoxin gets the point across to the most aggressive predators. Shark attacks on humans are the result of sharks' earlier attempted attacks on pufferfish. Sharks are so angry afterwards they go after the nearest surfer or diver they can find.
Recent studies show that the fish can have fast short bursts of speed. This can be so fast that time travel and teleportation occurs. As pufferfish are unable to select a destination, they can end up inside people and inflate in surprise, causing spontaneous human explosions. Over 156,000 people die of this every year. Scientists suggest wearing a tinfoil cummerbund to go along with the standard tin foil hat as protection.
Blowfish are omnivorous, often spending hours carefully maneuvering to approach its prey only to see it swim away quickly. So it largely depends on shellfish, algae and fat and slow tourists for its survival.
Pufferfish do not always automatically kill tourists. Rather, after stunning the victim, they will lay eggs inside a tourist's head as a lukewarm barely-used brain with low electrical activity is an ideal environment. The unhatched fish can send chemical signals to this underused brain, making the human buy and constantly wear noise-canceling headphones to keep the eggs warm. Then as the babies hatch under cover of darkness during a new moon, they will move toward the ear canal, inflate and quietly float into the air. There will only be a vague recollection by the sleeper of small voices yelling "Geronimo!", one after the other. That, and finding an open window that was thought to be closed.
In New Zealand, the fish cooperate with keas, a native parrot species. Keas love to pull up weatherstripping gaskets from car windows. When caught by an angry car owner, the flock will lead the owner in a chase away from the car, while some circle back to continue the job. The flocks can now chase the driver far away by dropping spiny blowfish on them. Keas then make quick work of the car, popping the windshield and stealing stereos and radios while more pufferfish steal catalytic converters and even engines given enough time. Per animal, their estimated average take works out to be more than the average per capita income of an Otago resident. No animal has ever been convicted, as identification lineups have failed to identify the culprits.
Aquarium fish are typically without access to the neurotoxin-making bacteria so there is often no danger from poisoning. However, the species collected by hobbyists typically have big lips that can suck your face off if you lean too far over an open tank. While some people have managed to pull away from the tank, pufferfish will inhale and collapse the lungs of the victim, suffocating them. After eating its prey, the fish will inflate and bounce back into its tank with no one the wiser. The only protection found so far is to coat the face with fluorescent orange dust from Cheetohs. This was only found after statistics showed that nerds playing Super Mario while stuffing themselves with Cheetohs were never attacked.
edit Pufferfish as food
As insanity knows no boundaries, pufferfish are eaten in countries around the world. It is most popular in Asia, known as fugu (Japan), bogeo (Korea) or hetun (China). Hundreds of people die each year unaware that special preparation and selection of meat is needed to prevent death by neurotoxin. Since full-body paralysis is typical, people with fatal doses can't get to a camera in time to do a Jackass-style video. This is despite the fact that a video of someone not moving for ten minutes would not be particularly interesting to fans of the genre.
In specialized restaurants, trained chefs prepare the fish, careful not to contaminate specific cuts of flesh, with lower neurotoxin dosage, with organs like livers, with very high neurotoxin levels. Diners report a tingling, numbing sensation when eating pufferfish. So generally, they are also people who purposely get cavities so they can go to the dentist for novocaine shots. That and the thrill of eating something that can kill them is the reason that they keep coming back. Since different dosages affect people differently, some diners feeling little effect ask for and get more, including a toe tag when they end up on a slab in the morgue.
Fugu chefs go though years of apprenticeship to properly prepare the fish. They are licensed after completing their training at Trump University, ITT Tech or other important education centers. Their ears are trained to be highly tuned to hear the sound of tips hitting the table with the ability to even detect the value of falling banknotes. With their equally well-trained memories, they are then able to remember the voices of lousy tippers who return and will set the neurotoxin dosage given to them to an appropriate level.
In 2005, the First International Fugu Eating Championship was held in Oakland, California. Promoters forgot to tell competitors that fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish, and failed to warn of the danger from neurotoxins. Every contestant died. So did attendees at the memorial banquet held after the competition where pufferfish was the main course. Two people did survive the banquet but were killed when both of their ambulances were carjacked and Oakland police used tanks with flamethrowers to stop them. While the Fox-televised competition was a big hit and the carjacking coverage even bigger, a second championship was cancelled for undisclosed reasons. Insiders say that there was a threat of lawsuit from the producers of Jackass.
- ↑ They're creepy and they're kooky/Mysterious and spooky/They're all together ooky/The Tetraontidae family
- ↑ Britney Spears (2003), but yeah, toxic like Britney
- ↑ rather than the slow lingering death from daily doses of fast food
- ↑ No soap, radio! You’ve never paid any attention to warnings before, so this sentence and footnote are irrelevant.
- ↑ Oxymoron? Of course.
- ↑ if you were around in the 1960s
- ↑ if you were around in the 1990s
- ↑ if you are around in 2017 or so
- ↑ "Never eat anything bigger than your head" – B. Kliban
- ↑ Bet you heard David Attenborough's voice reading this paragraph.
- ↑ which isn't saying much
- ↑ Swedish Goldfish are attractants, however
- ↑ as opposed to the mental paralysis that got them there in the first place
- ↑ on loan from Ferguson, Missouri