You never know what’s lurking in the deep and mysterious waters of the SouthCoast, but sometimes, what’s lurking is actually quite cute.

A puffer fish was caught and released today off of Onset Pier by the Wareham Department of Natural Resources, gaining the attention and smiles of the crew members involved.

“You never know what’s gonna swim by the Onset Pier!” WDNR wrote on its Facebook page, accompanied by photos of a puffed-out puffer fish, resting in the hands of WDNR officer. Did this puffer fish do some long-haul traveling to get to the SouthCoast, or do puffer fish always live in SouthCoast waters?

It turns out Massachusetts waters are home to the Northern puffer fish, and I am shocked. How have I gone 28 years living in New England and have never come across one of these?

They inhabit estuaries, bays, and offshore waters, and live about 60 meters below the surface. They’re typically spotted in the mid-Atlantic from the spring into the fall, so this little guy must have been enjoying a swim near the surface when it was spotted by the WDNR.

Some species of puffer are poisonous, so it is a bit alarming that the crew members are casually holding this puffed-out puffer. The skin and organs of a puffer fish contain a biotoxin called tetrodotoxin (TTX), which is 500 times more deadly than cyanide, but the good news is that the Northern puffer is far less poisonous than other species. In fact, you can eat them at your next lobster bake if you are feeling adventurous.

While this puffer looks adorable, it’s scared. Puffer fish will only puff out when trapped by a predator, but thankfully this predator just wanted a good photo before releasing the puffer fish back into the water.

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Every beach town has its share of pluses and minuses, which got us thinking about what makes a beach town the best one to live in. To find out, Stacker consulted data from WalletHub, released June 17, 2020, that compares U.S. beach towns. Ratings are based on six categories: affordability, weather, safety, economy, education and health, and quality of life. The cities ranged in population from 10,000 to 150,000, but they had to have at least one local beach listed on TripAdvisor. Read the full methodology here. From those rankings, we selected the top 50. Readers who live in California and Florida will be unsurprised to learn that many of towns featured here are in one of those two states.

Keep reading to see if your favorite beach town made the cut.

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