The porcupine fish is a slow moving and somewhat clumsy fish, and when inflated becomes even more so. Charles Darwin observed in his book from 1860, ‘The Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle’, that when inflated this horned puffer has a tendency to drift upside down.
“The skin about the abdomen is much looser than that on the back; hence, during the inflation, the lower surface becomes far more distended than the upper; and the fish, in consequence, floats with its back downwards.”
Miraculously, they are still able to swim in this position, Darwin notes.
“Not only can it thus move forward in a straight line, but it can turn round to either side.”
But don’t be fooled. The humble porcupine fish is one of the deadliest creatures in the sea and has few natural predators. This is because of a poison they store in their skin and organs, called tetrodotoxin, a substance that makes them unpalatable and often lethal to other fish.
To humans, tetrodotoxin is up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide and there is enough poison in a pufferfish to kill 30 adults. Poisonous puffers are believed to synthesise their deadly toxin from the bacteria in the creatures that they eat and there is no known antidote.
Yet, in most cases where it is attacked the porcupine fish has to simply inflate itself with water and air to make it form a big round ball that is too large for most predators’ mouths, saving both itself and its attacker from certain death.
This combination of an ability to enhance its shape, extreme toxicity and a fierce spiky appearance provide the porcupine fish with a holistic defence system, keeping it quite safe from even the most voracious predators.
From an superannuation industry perspective, retirement is often tackled in a modular approach, where investment options, financial advice and insurance/guaranteed solutions provide the building blocks to create a strategy from.
But funds would do well to take a more holistic approach here too. Retirees are not interested in the individual building blocks, but have just one simple goal in mind: to draw down enough money to give them a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, without running the risk of depleting their savings before they die.
As such, the challenge of the super industry is to offer strategies that keep this end goal in sight at all times.
At the fourth [i3] Retirement Strategy Forum, we will discuss the need for a holistic approach to retirement strategies and more, including:
- Income in an inflationary world
- The role of guaranteed strategies
- The viability of different forms of in-person and digital advice
- Appetite for liquidity
- Alternative and private market assets