Needlefish, also known as ball fish, are masters of camouflage and defense against attack. They can quickly turn their body into a ball by drawing water into their expanding stomach. Because of this unique ability, they are commonly referred to as “ball fish.
How does this happen? Special muscles located in the oral cavity provide an efficient pump that quickly pumps fluid inside the body. The stomach has also undergone significant changes. It is able to increase its internal volume by more than a hundred times. This is made possible by the folds on the walls of the stomach, which can easily expand if necessary.
The pufferfish’s ability to inflate places great demands on its skin. The skin of pufferfish consists of two layers: the thicker inner layer stretches, like the stomach, due to the folds and provides skin strength in any condition, and the elastic outer layer maintains the elasticity of the outer covers so that the fish does not look wrinkled like a deflated balloon in a relaxed state.
But not only the skin, but also the respiratory system of pufferfish is adapted to their unique ability. Pufferfish inflated by fright continue to breathe through their gills, and their breathing becomes five times more intense than in their resting state. Apparently, the protective transformation into a balloon requires a lot of energy from the pufferfish. After that, it takes a few hours for the fish to breathe normally.
Pufferfish can be found in various bodies of water all over the world. Some species, such as the puffer ball fish, use their ability to inflate as a last resort defense against predators. However, despite their unique ability, puffer fish can still fall prey to skilled predators such as sharks and whales.
Pufferfish remain one of the most amazing examples of evolution in the animal world. Their ability to defend themselves from predators and adapt to their environment continues to amaze scientists and nature lovers around the world.