These are unfortunately still over-fished in spite of their numbers declining so much. They also are dealing with habitat loss. They are one of the top four puffers used for fugu. I did not paint it puffed up even though they absolutely do look adorable that way. They do it out of necessity, not for fun, and it is thought it most likely hurts when they do it. While it only takes 15 seconds or so for them to balloon to 3 times their size, it can take almost 6 hours to deflate. While they are waiting to deflate they are at the mercy of currents because while their mobility is never fantastic, when inflated and deflating they can essentially just drift along. To expand they unhinge their jaw and then with their mouth able to open more than normal they take water in with big gulps. It stretches their skin and also their stomach. They are highly toxic and it is thought to be mostly due to what they eat, rather than any innate toxicity of their own. These were hard to find pictures of. Even searching for them by scientific name only tended to bring up one of 3 types of pictures: puffers that were a completely different species, dead ones that were cut up and already on a plate or in soup, and ones that may or may not have been these but were completely puffed up. Hopefully I've portrayed them close to correctly.
I had planned on doing a Greek Lamprey today, and I will still do one eventually. The problem was, the pose I have in my mind is looking at its mouth. I had never realized how many styles of teeth patterns lampreys have. I mean I didn't assume that they are all the same, but some look like the almost toothless grandma version while others look like they probably inspired many nightmares single-handed...or mouthed. After four hours of researching, I still do not know what the mouth looks like for sure. I found one very long involved description, and one scientific drawing. The problem with the drawing is, it doesn't exactly match up with the description and has a different genus name than the lamprey is listed as currently. I have learned to not trust scientific drawings too. I suppose it was naive of me to think that they were painted or drawn from life or at least trying to accurately portray a dead specimen. The possum I did this week for instance, the only scientific painting of it that I found showed it with a fluffy tail, and since there are actual photos of that animal I know for a fact that they don't have a fluffy tail. It has happened with at least half of the animals I've painted in fact, and is rather disheartening. I know I've said it many times, but while I'm not claiming to be scientifically exact at least I'm trying to be as correct as I can be. I've found an email for someone who seems to be a co-author on pretty much all the books that include the Greek Lamprey. I am hoping it is an active account, and that he can respond to tell me how they do actually look. We'll see, I may have to sort of make up my own that is a mix of the description and the drawing.