Monday, April 23, 2012

The dangers of a stone-faced fish

I don't know about you but I am always drawn in by those "Top 10 Most [insert adjective and genre]" articles/TV shows. I was recently reading one of these flashy stories on the 10 Scariest Sea Creatures when I came across an animal I had never heard of-- the stonefish, which held its own at spot number eight.

All rights reserved to Erik Schlogl
All rights reserved to Bill and Mark Bell
Although this beauty may soon be in the running for the "Top 10 Ugliest Sea Beings", its claim to scare stems from its powerful venom.  The venom contains a neurotoxin that makes the stonefish the most venomous fish in the world, hence earning it a spot in the countdown.  If a human steps on a stonefish, the venom will be injected from the spines on the back of the fish (difficult to see above) into the foot.  The amount injected will depend on the applied pressure of the unsuspecting and unfortunate being.  Once injected, the venom is known to rapidly cause paralysis and extreme pain; however, it is rarely fatal.  That being said, some victims say the pain is so great that they would rather their affected limb be amputated that cope with it!

Australia has developed an anti-venom to the stonefish venom that can substantially decrease pain and risk of paralysis.  But due to the chance of a severe allergic, or anaphylactic, reaction the anti-venom is only administered in serious cases of injury.

The stonefish may look like something that would only grow on the Flying Dutchman (and match Davy's permanent frown) but it is able live in shallow tropical marine waters throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans, especially near coral reefs.  It's natural camouflage makes fellow sea creatures and humans enjoying a little R&R blind to its presence rocky habitats.  *Note that the picture above on the right has been removed from its natural habitat to make it's appearance clearer- the picture on the left is a better illustration of what a stonefish can look like in nature.

The best way to protect yourself against these elusive creatures is to wear water shoes, preferably with thick soles, whenever parading around tropical marine areas.  You may miss feeling the water tickling your toes as you scuba dive or snorkel but losing that seems a heck of a lot better than the extreme pain of a stonefish stab.  And believe me, there are tons of other marine beings that are bound to ruin your vacation if you step on them.  If curious check out another "Top 10" here....

That being said, do NOT stop vacationing to tropical islands!  They are gorgeous and often have extremely interesting wildlife. This post was written simply to inform people so they may recognize what creatures actually live in that big blue watery road and protect themselves from some of their dangers.

1 comment:

  1. Apparently it's dangerous sea creatures week--first jellyfish, now stonefish!