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Osprey carries off a poisonous pufferfish after swooping down and plucking it out of the water

Puff, puff and away: Osprey carries off a poisonous pufferfish after swooping down and plucking it out of the water in stunning footage

  • An osprey was spotted carrying an inflated pufferfish off the coast of Florida 
  • The defiant bird of prey holds the fish tight as it glides through the air unfazed  
  • Pufferfish balloon up and have toxin on skin which often makes birds drop them 
  • Though a delicacy in Japan, they are more poisonous to humans than cyanide 

A photographer was taken by surprise when he spotted an osprey seahawk flying through the air carrying an inflated pufferfish. 

While there have been several sightings of the poisonous fish being swooped up by the birds of prey, they are usually dropped within a matter of seconds. 

But this defiant osprey continued to cling on tight to the ballooned fish as it flew beside a pier on Florida‘s Treasure Coast.  

A seahawk was seen defiantly holding on to a poisonous inflated pufferfish off Florida’s treasure coast this week

Wildlife photographer Mark Smith was surprised to witness the unusual sight on Wednesday. 

Moments before the enormous bird, which can have a wingspan of up to 6ft, had dived at speed into the water and plucked the poisonous fish from the ocean. 

The osprey appears unfazed by the fish, which has puffed out into a large ball in an attempt to protect itself from being eaten. 

Pufferfish have elastic stomachs and are able to engulf large volumes of water, and sometimes air, to inflate themselves – making them harder to pick up and keep a hold of.

Despite all its defences, including its inflation technique and toxins on its skin, the bird of prey continued to cling on the pufferfish

Despite all its defences, including its inflation technique and toxins on its skin, the bird of prey continued to cling on the pufferfish

The osprey appeared unfazed by the pufferfish's attempts to free itself as it calmly flapped through the air past the pier

The osprey appeared unfazed by the pufferfish’s attempts to free itself as it calmly flapped through the air past the pier

Some even have sharp spikes on their skin to act as a further deterrent.   

They are generally believed to be the second-most poisonous vertebrates in the world, after the golden poison frog.

Certain internal organs, such as liver, and sometimes the skin, contain tetrodotoxin and are highly toxic to most animals when eaten.

Despite tetrodotoxin being more than a thousand times more deadly to humans than cyanide and there being no antidote, they are enjoyed as a delicacy in Japan called fugu.

Up to 3ft in size and ballooning up to protect itself: The pufferfish

Pufferfish, also known as blowfish, can grow up to 3ft and are found in oceans across the world. 

They are believed to be among the most poisonous vertebrates in the world. 

As slow swimmers, scientists believe pufferfish developed their well-known ‘puffing’ as a way to avoid being picked out by predators.

The fish can blow up to several times their own size, filling up with water or air if needed, to make them harder to grip on to. 

Some of the species also have spines on their backs to act as another defence.

While fish may be able to pluck them out of the water when they are deflated, they will soon regret their decision when the nasty tasting tetrodotoxin is released from the pufferfish skin. 

The toxin often makes birds spit them out but some predators may find their stomachs filled with the poison after managing to eat the fish.

There are some species which are not poisonous and are eaten across the world and prepared by specialist chefs. 

It contains enough of the toxin to kill 30 humans.  

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