Beachgoers warned of weever fish

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BEACHGOERS are being warned of the dangers of poisonous weever fish after a number of people were stung.

Staff at the Blue Reef Aquarium say the chances of getting stung are slight, but warn bathers and surfers to be on their guard against the fish which lie half-buried in shallow water.

Despite measuring only 14cm, weevers, pictured, are thought to be Britain’s most dangerous marine species, and once trodden on the fish uses specially-adapted dorsal fins to inject a fast-acting poison into the wound.

The pain is described as excruciating and is at its most intense for the first two hours when the affected limb swells up.

Blue Reef’s Anna Pellegrino said: “Until recently weever fish reports tended to be confined to southern beaches but we have noticed a definite rise in people getting stung; particularly this summer.

“The chances of actually stepping on a weever fish are very small but there are some basic precautions to avoid getting stung.

“The simplest is to wear some form of footwear in the water.

“Another way is to shuffle your feet through the sand as you walk – this disturbance should scare away any nearby fish.”

If you do get stung the most effective treatment is to put the affected limb in water as hot as possible without causing scalding.

The heat helps to break down the poison but it also increases blood flow to the sting causing natural cleaning and healing.

The sting feels at first like a sharp stab but this pain increases quickly for up to an hour and has been known to last for up to 24 hours.

The venom produced is a nerve poison and has a chemical in it which is one of the most potent pain producing substances known.