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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