American Oceans

Are Barracudas Dangerous and Do They Attack Humans?

Predatory fish in the Sphyraenidae family include barracudas. The Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans are just a few of the oceans where they can be found.

Barracuda with sharp teeth showing

Barracudas are elongated, cylindrical fish with a broad, toothy mouth. They are effective hunters because they have the ability to swim quickly.

Various prey, such as smaller fish, squid, and crustaceans, are consumed by barracudas. Under specific conditions, like as when they mistake a swimmer or diver for prey, they have been known to attack humans.

Will Barracuda Attack Humans?

Barracudas can be dangerous to humans under certain circumstances.

The Great Barracuda

While barracudas are not typically aggressive towards humans, they have been known to attack people who are swimming or diving in waters where they are present.

This is often the result of mistaken identity, as barracudas can mistake a swimmer or diver for a prey species. Additionally, barracudas have large, sharp teeth that can cause serious injury if they bite a person.

As a result, it is advisable to exercise caution when swimming or diving in waters where barracudas are present.

Are Barracuda Dangerous to Swim With?

Barracudas have been known to attack people, however this seldom happens.

Sphyraena barracuda

As a result of mistaken identity, where the fish mistake the swimmer or diver for a prey species, barracuda attacks on people typically happen. Additionally, if barracudas feel intimidated or provoked, they are more inclined to attack.

It’s crucial to remember that not all barracudas pose a threat to people. While some people might be more aggressive than others, others might be less so.

The chance of a barracuda attack is also influenced by the environment, including the clarity of the water and the presence of other kinds of prey.

Exercise caution and refrain from doing anything that can frighten or incite barracudas if you are swimming or diving in an area where there are any of the fish.

This involves refraining from rapid movements, forgoing dazzling jewelry, and limiting splashing.

What to do if you see a barracuda?

To lessen the possibility of being attacked, it is advised to follow these instructions if you notice a barracuda while swimming or diving:

Barracuda with big teeth up close

The barracuda’s predatory tendencies might be triggered by rapid movements or splashing, so try to maintain your composure.

Avoid acting provocatively since barracudas won’t attack if they don’t feel threatened. Avert doing anything that would give the impression that you are attempting to attract fish, such as wearing dazzling jewelry.

Maintain a safe distance: Give the barracuda plenty of room, particularly if it seems to be feeding or hunting.

Keep your distance if you want to see the barracuda: Stay away from it and keep your distance if you want to see it.

Exit the water: It is best to get out of the water as fast and gently as you can if you feel uneasy or unsafe around a barracuda.

Are barracudas more aggressive than sharks?

It is incorrect to suggest that barracudas are more aggressive than sharks because both species can display aggression at varying degrees depending on a variety of variables.

school of barracuda in sipadan

As opportunistic predators, barracudas are known to be violent when hunting or when they perceive a threat. When mistaking a swimmer or diver for a prey species, for example, they have been known to assault humans.

Sharks, on the other hand, are predators as well, but the degree of violence they exhibit against people depends tremendously on the species and particular shark.

While some species, like the whale shark, are rather gentle, others, like the great white shark, have a reputation for being very aggressive.


  • i was 14 snorkel fishing in malta the water was crystal clear i was doing my usual hunting octopus and i would place them at my waist on a circle of wire made from a steel coat hanger, suddenly i felt danger i look all over , right, left down ,up then behind , and hell there were 6-8 large barracuda following me, they were approximatly two meters long and were moving in on me , obviously curious about me as i smelt like an octopus, but was far to big , so they were very cautious, i didnt know what to do so i blew out a gout of air and made myself look as big as i could and waving my arms and legs , luckily the barracudas shot off at amazing speed and i was safe. ??? thank god . but that made me wonder how often over the last 3 years had i been followed by other predetors ???.
    i was pretty naive as i thought malta didnt have big sharks ??? little did i know there were lots of huge man eaters , tigers , great-whites , hammer-heads, white -tips, ect ect, and here i had been swimming around like a mobile buffet, how many times had i been lucky to be passed by, instead of eaten . sheesh i am so lucky to have survived because i used to start hunting around 9am and only stop to go home around dusk 6-30 pm. every weekend without fail, as my octopus catch was bought by eager local maltese, i earned more than my dad who was a seargent in the british army, he earned approx 8 pounds i often earned ten pounds . but if i had known of the danger that was near me all around i wouldnt have hunted octopus. my god what a silly kid i was but mind you my mum and dad didnt know what was in the waters around them either. ha ha.

    • Great story Ken!

      Just encountered a 5′ barracuda this afternoon while snorkeling with my wife, 13 yo son, and 15 yo daughter in the usvi. Incredibly nerve wracking as we were in 5-6 ft of water and the barracuda slowly circled us from about 6′ away while flashing that malicious toothy grin at us. No exaggeration- 6 ft away! At one point the current pushed me to closer to 4 ft! I thought “come on, this can’t be happening!”

      We were about 40 yards from shore in a shallow bay and had to slowly swim back to shore while I tried to keep myself between the fish and my family. When we made it to about 3′ depth the barracuda decided to finally move off. Not knowing the typical behavior of these fish made it incredibly scary.

      A few hours later I found out my wife forgot to take her shiny wedding ring off. May or may not have been the reason for the fish’s curiosity and/or predatory behavior.

      Funny thing is that we had just agreed to head out of the water as we weren’t seeing much that was interesting. Just grass, small fish, and some cool sea fans. Less than a minute later my son was hollering something but my ears were below the water so I couldn’t hear him well. I assumed it was “turtle!”. Didn’t take long to realize what he had yelled.

  • A week ago my family and I were on a cruise in the Bahamas, and we had stops both in Nassau and Ocean Cay, the MSC cruise line’s private island. I had snorkeled with barracuda before in Cozumel, MX and Roatan, Honduras, and had never felt threated by them.

    While snorkeling at Junkanoo Beach, Nassau, my daughter and I stumbled across a concentration of 3″ long “baby” barracuda fry in shallow water near jetty rocks (about 3′ deep). A few minutes later I glanced to the left and was startled to see a 3 and 1/2 ‘ cuda about 7′ from me, looking at me and my ten year-old daughter. We kept our faces towards it before standing up in the shallows and getting on the beach just as a precaution.

    The next day I was snorkeling alone at Ocean Cay along the rocks near the lighthouse and saw some MUCH larger barracuda at different times during the day. These were very chunky (by barracuda standards) and were 6′ long. That was the first time I had felt very nervous around them. I was chasing a bar jack around and headed towards the shark net before giving up on getting closer to him. Once I stopped, a caught sight of a very large silvery fish in my left peripheral vision. I turned to find one of these 6′ cudas hovering nearly motionless about 10-12′ away from me inside the shark netting. It was facing and looking directly at me, so I’m guessing my rapid swimming probably attracted its interest. I was in about 9′ of water, so I faced it and slowly began swimming backwards towards the lighthouse wall. Once I had but about 30′ of distance us, I turned around to face the rocks that I was approaching and then began to become distracted by a group of reef squid that were hovering around me. After interacting with the school of about 15 squid for about a minute. I then turned around to see if I could locate the large cuda again, but it had left the area where I had originally saw it. I then turned back towards the squid only to find the profiled barracuda suspended in the water about 8’ in front of me near the rocks. I was startled by how quickly and stealthily he had got into the position in front of me without me even detecting its movements. I have to admit my heart was racing some. I took this as my signal to head for the beach for a break. I swam backwards keeping my snorkel above water until I had lost sight of him and was able to stand up in the shallows.

    I have a newfound respect and admiration for their quickness and curiosity.

  • I was snorkeling in Tobago, over a reef from the shore and followed a very obliging turtle out into deeper water. Suddenly I was approached from the front by two Barracuda that swam up at high speed before opening their jaws to reveal mouths full off teeth perhaps only a couple of metres away before swimming off at high speed. I quickly decided discretion was the best course of action and you never saw me move so fast back to the beach! Clearly I was seen as a threat of some sort but I always wondered whether they might attack if I pushed my luck