Black Fish Venomous

Unknown Fish of the Middle East. Physical description: Small and black. Behavior: Lethal, swift-acting bite. Distribution: Shatt al Arab River, Iran and Iraq.

Significant sightings: Said to have killed twenty-eight people before 1975. Possible explanations:

(1) Unknown relative of the Blackline fang-blenny (Meiacanthus nigrolineatus), a blue-and-yellow species with a black stripe along its dorsal fin, suggested by Karl Shuker. Found in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, this fish has a nonfatal, venomous bite and is just under 4 inches long.

(2) The Stinging catfish (Heteropneustes fos-silis), a black fish about 12 inches long with poisonous spines in its pectoral fins, has been introduced into the Shatt al Arab from the Indian subcontinent. Its bite is not dangerous, but its fins are.

(3) A Giant slender moray (Thyrsoidea macrura) from the Red Sea. This fish grows to 12 feet long, and its bites have never proven fatal.

Sources: Roger A. Car as, Dangerous to Man, rev. ed. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975); Karl Shuker, "Fins, Fangs and Poison," Fortean Times, no. 93 (December 1996): 44.

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