We strongly caution the visitor not to eat larger species of fish such as amberjack or barracuda and other bottom feeders (in many areas, this includes blackfin grouper, yellowfin grouper, red snapper, jackfish, hogfish, and perhaps shellfish). These have been known to cause ciguatera poisoning, a serious disease that can result in lasting nerve damage, coma, and even death. A nerve poison generated by a dinoflagellate that feeds on coral reefs is passed on to fish that ingest the dinoflagellates. The fish is unharmed, but the poison accumulates in its system as it ages (thus the larger the fish, the more toxic it is to eat). There is no way to determine if a fish is toxic or not, and no way to detoxify an affected fish (cooking or freezing are ineffective).
If you eat a toxic fish you will experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps 3-10 hours later, usually accompanied by weakness, joint and muscle pain, and tingling around the nose and mouth. Medical aid should be sought immediately if you develop these symptoms after eating fish.Be prepared to identify any fish you catch and plan to eat (tuna, dolphin, and wahoo are said to usually be safe) — but in any case you must still rely on local knowledge as to which fish are safe to eat in any particular geographic area, as this varies from place to place throughout the islands.
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