Snorkeling? What’s Really Going on When a Barracuda Follows You

A barracuda is a pretty scary-looking fish. Barracudas have enough teeth to chew a human to bits, and can be creepily motionless in the water. And when they move, barracuda are fast. They can swim up to 25 mph. This adds to their scariness.

But to be honest, there’s nothing to worry about if you see a barracuda while you’re snorkeling in Xcalak.

We’ve had a barracuda or two followed us while snorkeling. It was unnerving because they’re a big scary-looking fish. But really – it seemed like the barracuda was just curious about us.

barracuda teeth
Check out those razor-sharp pearly whites!

It’s common for barracuda to follow divers and snorkelers. And in Xcalak’s protected waters, you’re dealing with some pretty bold barracuda. If they want a closer look, they’ll take it.

What goes through a barracuda’s mind when he follows you?

Here are some reasons a barracuda might take an interest in you when you’re snorkeling in Xcalak.

You look like a large predator

Barracuda are both hunters and scavengers. Those sharp chompers make the former obvious. And the latter just seems to make sense – why waste your time and effort when you can scavenge someone’s leftovers?

Since you look like a big enough creature to prey on some of the little guys, the barracuda could be waiting around for you to eat and finish a meal. He’s planning to swim in and devour the leavings.

Silly barracuda! Snorkeling trips are for observing the marine life, not eating it. But I guess he doesn’t know that.

You have something shiny on

If you’re wearing a shiny wedding ring, earrings, or ankle bracelet while snorkeling, you might just catch a barracuda’s eye. Shiny things in the water can look like glinting scales of small fish – tasty treats for a barracuda.

If you’re wearing something shiny when you run into a barracuda, don’t worry too much but try to cover it up. A barracuda’s eyesight is pretty good, so a barracuda is extremely unlikely to take a bit of your whole hand thinking it’s a fish.

Unless for some reason you have shiny jewelry and a fish in your hand…

You smell like fish

Barracuda have some pretty big teeth – they’re equipped to eat other fish. If you’ve just been fishing, cooked fish, or held a fish, you might smell like a barracuda’s favorite meal.

Attracting a barracuda by smelling like a fish is a little far-fetched. But this guy figured a barracuda followed him close enough to take a bite of his fin partly because he’d just handled some fish.

Snorkeling before you BBQ the catch of the day is the best way to avoid smelling barracuda-attractingly fishy.


In Xcalak, snorkeling will bring you face to face with interesting fish, and sometimes those fish will be interested in you. If you notice you’re sharing the sea with a barracuda, don’t panic.

They’re curious, not vicious.

Don’t wear shiny jewelry when you snorkel, and avoid handing fish just before jumping into the sea. If you do see a barracuda, rather than heading for shore, think about how lucky you are to see such an impressive creature in its home.


Don’t miss our tips for What to Expect Snorkeling in Xcalak