Kerry Hucul

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 Islands

This 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 species

Many 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 Islands

If 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 Islands

         Great Barracuda is HIGH-RISK

  • Barracuda
    Barracuda- Ciguatera Poisoning British Virgin Islands

     

    Spotted Scorpionfish are FREQUENT

    Spotted Scorpion Fish

     

    Queen Triggerfish are FREQUENT

  • Queen Triggerfish

     

    Kingfish is FREQUENT

  • Kingfish

     

    Needlefish or Houndfish are INFREQUENT

  • Needlefish

     

    Squirrelfish are INFREQUENT

  • Squirrelfish

     

    Little Tunny is INFREQUENT

    Little Tunny
    Little Tunny

         Atlantic Bonito are INFREQUENT

Atlantic Bonito

         Atlantic Bonito

 

       Porcupine Fish is INFREQUENT

Porcupine Fish
Porcupine Fish

Balloon Fish are INFREQUENT

Balloon Fish
Balloon Fish

Southern Stingray is SELDOM

Southern Stingray
Southern Stingray

Nurse Shark is SELDOM

Nurse Shark
Nurse Shark

Ocean Surgeon Fish are SELDOM

Ocean Surgeon Fish
Ocean Surgeon Fish

Doctor Fish are SELDOM

doctor fish
doctor fish

Blue Tang is SELDOM

Blue Tang

Flounder are SELDOM

Flounder
Flounder

Atlantic Spade Fish is SELDOM

Atlantic Spade Fish
Atlantic Spade Fish

Seargent Major is SELDOM

Seargent Major 
Seargent Major

Spotted Drum is SELDOM

Spotted Drum
Spotted Drum

Jackknife Fish is SELDOM

Jackknife Fish
Jackknife Fish

SEA BASS AND GROUPERS Ciguatera Risk

Sea Bass
Sea Bass
Grouper
Grouper

Rock hind Fish is FREQUENT

Rock hind Fish
Rock hind Fish

Red Grouper are FREQUENT

Red Grouper
Red Grouper

Nassau Grouper are SELDOM

Nassau Grouper
Nassau Grouper

Yellowfin Grouper is  FREQUENT

Yellowfin Grouper 
Yellowfin Grouper

Butter (Black) Hamlet Fish is SELDOM

Butter (Black) Hamlet Fish
Butter (Black) Hamlet Fish

JACK Ciguatera Risk

JACK FISH
JACK FISH

Greater Amberjack is HIGH-RISK

Greater Amberjack
Greater Amberjack

Horse Eye Jack is HIGH-RISK

Horse Eye Jack 
Horse Eye Jack

Bar Jack is HIGH-RISK

Bar Jack 
Bar Jack

BlackJack is HIGH-RISK

BlackJack
BlackJack

Blue Runner Fish is INFREQUENT

Blue Runner Fish
Blue Runner Fish

SNAPPER Ciguatera Risk

Snapper
Snapper

Blackfin Snapper are FREQUENT

Blackfin Snapper
Blackfin Snapper

Mutton Snapper are SELDOM

Mutton Snapper
Mutton Snapper

Schoolmaster snapper are FREQUENT

Schoolmaster snapper
Schoolmaster snapper

Red Snapper is INFREQUENT

Red Snapper
Red Snapper

Gray Snapper is INFREQUENT

Gray Snapper
Gray Snapper

Dog snapper is HIGH-RISK

Dog snapper
Dog snapper

Mahogany Snapper are FREQUENT

Mahogany Snapper
Mahogany Snapper

Lane Snapper is SELDOM CIG

Lane Snapper
Lane Snapper

Yellowtail Snapper is SELDOM

Yellowtail Snapper

Welchman Snapper is SELDOM

Welchman Snapper
Welchman Snapper

Eel Ciguatera Risk

Eel
Eel

Green Moray Eel is FREQUENT

Green Moray Eel
Green Moray Eel

Spotted eel are FREQUENT

Spotted eel
Spotted eel

GRUNT Ciguatera Risk

GRUNT
GRUNT Fish

Black Margate are INFREQUENT

Black Margate
Black Margate

Porkfish are INFREQUENT

Porkfish
Porkfish

Margate is INFREQUENT

Margate

Tomtate is INFREQUENT

Tomtate
Tomtate

Black Grunt is INFREQUENT

Black Grunt

French Grunt are INFREQUENT

French Grunt
French Grunt

Cottonwick Grunt is INFREQUENT

Cottonwick Grunt
Cottonwick Grunt

White Grunt is INFREQUENT

White Grunt 
White Grunt

Blue Striped Grunt is INFREQUENT

Blue Striped Grunt 
Blue Striped Grunt

Porgy Ciguatera Risk

Porgy
Porgy

Saucer Eyed Porgy is INFREQUENT

Saucer Eyed Porgy
Saucer Eyed Porgy

Sheepshead Porgy is SELDOM

Sheepshead Porgy
Sheepshead Porgy

Pluma Porgy is  SELDOM

Pluma Porgy
Pluma Porgy

Goatfish Ciguatera Risk

Goatfish
Goatfish

Yellowtail Goatfish is SELDOM

Yellowtail Goatfish
Yellowtail Goatfish

Spotted Goatfish is SELDOM

Spotted Goatfish
Spotted Goatfish

Butterfly Fish Ciguatera Risk

Butterfly Fish
Butterfly Fish

Four Eye Butterfly Fish is SELDOM

Four Eye Butterfly Fish 
Four Eye Butterfly Fish

Reef Butterfly Fish is SELDOM

Reef Butterfly Fish
Reef Butterfly Fish

Banded Butterfly Fish are SELDOM

Banded Butterfly Fish
Banded Butterfly Fish

Angelfish Ciguatera Risk

Angelfish
Angelfish

Blue Angel Fish is SELDOM

Blue Angel Fish
Blue Angel Fish

Gray Angelfish are SELDOM

Gray Angelfish
Gray Angelfish

French Angelfish are SELDOM

French Angelfish 
French Angelfish

Rock beauty Angelfish are SELDOM

Rock beauty Angelfish
Rock beauty Angelfish

Parrot Fish Ciguatera Risk

Parrot Fish
Parrot Fish

Blue Parrotfish are SELDOM

Blue Parrotfish
Blue Parrotfish

Striped Parrotfish are SELDOM

Striped Parrotfish
Striped Parrotfish

Princess Parrotfish are SELDOM

Princess Parrotfish
Princess Parrotfish

Queen Parrotfish are SELDOM

Queen Parrotfish
Queen Parrotfish

Redband Parrotfish are SELDOM

Redband Parrotfish
Redband Parrotfish

Red-Tailed Parrotfish are SELDOM

Red-Tailed Parrotfish
Red-Tailed Parrotfish

Redfinned Parrotfish are SELDOM

Redfinned Parrotfish
Redfinned Parrotfish

Bucktooth Parrotfish is SELDOM

Bucktooth Parrotfish
Bucktooth Parrotfish

Stoplight Parrotfish are SELDOM

Stoplight Parrotfish
Stoplight Parrotfish

Hogfish Ciguatera Risk

Hogfish
Hogfish

Pudding Wife is SELDOM

Pudding Wife. Ciguatera Poisoning British Virgin Islands
Pudding Wife

Filefish Ciguatera Risk

Filefish
Filefish

Scrawled Filefish is SELDOM

Scrawled Filefish. Ciguatera Poisoning British Virgin Islands
Scrawled Filefish

Orange Spotted Filefish is SELDOM

Orange Spotted Filefish
Orange Spotted Filefish

Fringed Filefish is SELDOM

Fringed Filefish
Fringed Filefish

Spotted Trunk Fish Ciguatera Risk

Trunk Fish
Spotted Trunk Fish

Smooth Trunkfish are INFREQUENT

Smooth Trunkfish. Ciguatera Poisoning British Virgin Islands
Smooth Trunkfish

Honeycomb Cowfish is INFREQUENT

Honeycomb Cowfish. Ciguatera Poisoning British Virgin Islands
Honeycomb Cowfish

Scrawled Cowfish is INFREQUENT

Scrawled Cowfish. Ciguatera Poisoning British Virgin Islands
Scrawled Cowfish

Fishing in the Virgin Islands

Let’s give you a few links with more information about fishing on your BVI Charter Yacht!


How do I get more information?

Bazza Cooper is our resident fishing expert! Bazza spent twenty years fishing in the Caribbean, and the rest of his life, he fished weekly in Australia including as a commercial shark fisherman in Southern Australia in his younger days. Contact us here and ask him any questions you need about fishing. We can also help you book that Crewed Charter Yacht or Bareboat Yacht for you to fulfill all your fishing dreams.

Ciguatera Poisoning British Virgin Islands guide can be used generally throughout the Caribbean, which has some of the highest rates of Ciguatera in the world. Still, search out LOCAL knowledge for the different countries down the Caribbean chain.

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