What is the risk of Ciguatera poisoning?
PLEASE NOTE: This is for the fishermen! We had this page up on our old blog site and took it down as it did not specifically pertain to booking crewed charter yachts. I received several requests to put it back as it was used as a reference guide by fisherpeople. Therefore, I have put it back. We have plenty of fish that is perfectly safe to eat, and our crews know where to get it. It is something to be aware of throughout the Caribbean and Indian Ocean.
Ciguatera poisoning British Virgin Islands is a foodborne illness caused by eating certain reef fish with toxins contaminating their flesh. Ciguatera is initially produced by dinoflagellates such as Gambierdiscus toxicus, which live in tropical and subtropical waters. The Caribbean Sea is one of these locations. These dinoflagellates adhere to coral, algae, and seaweed, eaten by herbivorous fish, which in turn, are eaten by larger predatory fish. In this way, the toxins move up the food chain and biomagnify. Symptoms of ciguatera in humans include gastrointestinal and neurological effects. Gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, usually followed by neurological symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, paresthesia, numbness, vertigo, and hallucinations. Severe cases of contaminated fish can also result in cold allodynia, which is the reversing of the sensation of hot and cold. Cold items may feel hot, and hot things may feel cold. Neurological symptoms can persist for months. Ciguatera poisoning is occasionally misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis. There is only one way to avoid cases of Ciguatera altogether. Don’t eat tropical reef fish. There are many reasons a reef can become Ciguatera active, but it always has to do with runoff, damage, or stress to the living reef.
Ciguatera poisoning British Virgin IslandsThis page is not meant to scare you, but will help you make decisions when you are curious if you can eat that fish you just caught! Fish caught to the south of the island chain has to be suspect. Fish caught to the North are usually safe. What does it all mean in conjunction with this fish list? The 88 species of fish listed towards the bottom of this page are the most common catches in the Virgin Islands. Pay close attention to our list if you are fishing in the Sir Francis Drake Channel or on the South Side of the Islands. If fishing on the north side of the islands, then all fish except Jacks and Barracuda are often eaten without incident.
What would I do?Follow the guide, regardless of where you are fishing. I would NOT stop fishing, some of your most enjoyable times out on your charter yacht will be hanging on the back deck with a beer in hand at night. Turn on the lights and watch the fish on the bottom. Dangle a line in and see what you catch. I would never consider eating a fish listed as high risk from anywhere PERIOD. I would never consider eating a fish listed as a FREQUENT poisoner from the south side or within the Sir Francis Drake channel. However, a smaller specimen from the north side would be dinner. I would not eat an INFREQUENT poisoner from the south side. A smaller specimen from the channel or any size from the north side should be ok. When I say smaller, I mean younger. A fish that grows to 3 feet is still young if 2 feet long. A fish that only grows to 8 inches is not considered small even though it is only 8 inches. A seldom poisoner from anywhere should be good; however, if I caught a large specimen on the south side, I probably would still not eat it. Again look at the pictures carefully; for example, the Rock hind and the Red hind look remarkably similar, however, one is seldom, and the other is a frequent ciguatera poisoner. There are no guarantees; This fish rating is compiled from many years of commercial catches. Both I and H2O Luxury Yachts give no guarantees and assume zero responsibility.
Similarities of fish speciesMany fish species look very similar, look carefully! This page is a work in progress. I will eventually get all the pictures up. One fish type may be safe, but its very close looking cousin may not. Look at the Dog snapper and the Gray snapper, They look very similar, but they have very different risks. Horse Eye Jack are regularly caught off the back of the boat throughout the Virgin Islands. It is not uncommon to snag 5 or 6 in an evening. Great fighters on light gear and make fantastic shark live baits, however, on the top of the list for Ciguatera poisoners. If you have any interest in either chartering a yacht and doing some fishing or going on a serious fishing charter, then please use our experience to your advantage.
Fish List of Potential Ciguatera poisoning British Virgin IslandsIf you know the general fish type, click to jump down the list. Otherwise, scroll down for the pictures of each fish.
General Fish Ciguatera poisoning British Virgin IslandsGreat Barracuda is HIGH-RISK
- Spotted Scorpionfish are FREQUENT Queen Triggerfish are FREQUENT
- Kingfish is FREQUENT
- Needlefish or Houndfish are INFREQUENT
- Squirrelfish are INFREQUENT
- Little Tunny is INFREQUENT
Atlantic Bonito are INFREQUENT
Porcupine Fish is INFREQUENTBalloon Fish are INFREQUENT Southern Stingray is SELDOM Nurse Shark is SELDOM Ocean Surgeon Fish are SELDOM Doctor Fish are SELDOM Blue Tang is SELDOM Flounder are SELDOM Atlantic Spade Fish is SELDOM Seargent Major is SELDOM Spotted Drum is SELDOM Jackknife Fish is SELDOM SEA BASS AND GROUPERS Ciguatera Risk Rock hind Fish is FREQUENT Red Grouper are FREQUENT Nassau Grouper are SELDOM Yellowfin Grouper is FREQUENT Butter (Black) Hamlet Fish is SELDOM JACK Ciguatera Risk Greater Amberjack is HIGH-RISK Horse Eye Jack is HIGH-RISK Bar Jack is HIGH-RISK BlackJack is HIGH-RISK Blue Runner Fish is INFREQUENT SNAPPER Ciguatera Risk Blackfin Snapper are FREQUENT Mutton Snapper are SELDOM Schoolmaster snapper are FREQUENT Red Snapper is INFREQUENT Gray Snapper is INFREQUENT Dog snapper is HIGH-RISK Mahogany Snapper are FREQUENT Lane Snapper is SELDOM CIG Yellowtail Snapper is SELDOM Welchman Snapper is SELDOM Eel Ciguatera Risk Green Moray Eel is FREQUENT Spotted eel are FREQUENT GRUNT Ciguatera Risk Black Margate are INFREQUENT Porkfish are INFREQUENT Margate is INFREQUENT Tomtate is INFREQUENT Black Grunt is INFREQUENT French Grunt are INFREQUENT Cottonwick Grunt is INFREQUENT White Grunt is INFREQUENT Blue Striped Grunt is INFREQUENT Porgy Ciguatera Risk Saucer Eyed Porgy is INFREQUENT Sheepshead Porgy is SELDOM Pluma Porgy is SELDOM Goatfish Ciguatera Risk Yellowtail Goatfish is SELDOM Spotted Goatfish is SELDOM Butterfly Fish Ciguatera Risk Four Eye Butterfly Fish is SELDOM Reef Butterfly Fish is SELDOM Banded Butterfly Fish are SELDOM Angelfish Ciguatera Risk Blue Angel Fish is SELDOM Gray Angelfish are SELDOM French Angelfish are SELDOM Rock beauty Angelfish are SELDOM Parrot Fish Ciguatera Risk Blue Parrotfish are SELDOM Striped Parrotfish are SELDOM Princess Parrotfish are SELDOM Queen Parrotfish are SELDOM Redband Parrotfish are SELDOM Red-Tailed Parrotfish are SELDOM Redfinned Parrotfish are SELDOM Bucktooth Parrotfish is SELDOM Stoplight Parrotfish are SELDOM Hogfish Ciguatera Risk Pudding Wife is SELDOM Filefish Ciguatera Risk Scrawled Filefish is SELDOM Orange Spotted Filefish is SELDOM Fringed Filefish is SELDOM Spotted Trunk Fish Ciguatera Risk Smooth Trunkfish are INFREQUENT Honeycomb Cowfish is INFREQUENT Scrawled Cowfish is INFREQUENT Fishing in the Virgin Islands Let’s give you a few links with more information about fishing on your BVI Charter Yacht!
- Custom Fishing BVI Yacht Charters
- Tarpon Fishing British Virgin Islands
- Fishing in the British Virgin Islands
- Our FAQ page has additional tips on Fishing