PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — There are plenty of fish in the sea, and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) issued a warning to stay away from one in particular.
The DEM and the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association said there’s been an increase in reports of the species in the area and asked anglers who catch one to take it off the hook and release it.
The smooth puffer fish, typically found near shore and over sand and mud bottoms in state waters, contains neurotoxins that can cause illness and death, according to the DEM.
The toxins can be found in all of their organs, including the skin. According to the FDA, there are no known antidotes to the toxins, which affect a human’s central nervous system. The toxins cannot be frozen or cooked out, the DEM noted.
The DEM also warned anglers not to use them as bait or chum.
The smooth puffer fish is not to be confused with the northern puffer fish, which are not toxic to humans.