Swimming just beneath the surface, the Indonesian needlefish isn’t known as an aggressive creature. Yet this is a dangerous species that can and does kill. Inflicting injuries – fatal or otherwise – is, in most cases, accidental. Yet this makes the needlefish no less dangerous.
Measuring up to three feet, this dagger-shaped ocean dweller has a long beak that is packed with razor-sharp teeth. From time to time, needlefish launch themselves out of the water at speeds of almost 40 miles per hour. Those in their path can be stabbed by these fast-flying spears. The injuries inflicted can be severe, the wounds deep, and the consequences sometimes grave.
Needlefish are often drawn to artificial light – putting those who engage in night fishing at the greatest risk of all. They’ve been known to leap into boats – impaling unfortunate anglers and ensuring that their reputation for danger remains intact. For many traditional Pacific Islander communities, who commonly fish on reefs from low boats, the species represent an greater risk of injury than sharks.