On Air Now
Early Breakfast with James Stewart 4am - 6:30am
A deadly stonefish - the world's most venomous fish species - has arrived at Portsmouth's Blue Reef Aquarium this week as part of new exhibition.
Stonefish, which are also known as the Goblinfish and the Warty-Ghoul, are so poisonous staff have had to undergo specialist first-aid training and the fish will be kept under lock and key in a special display.
The poison is held in glands under 13 jagged spines running along the stonefish's back. The spines are so sharp they can pierce through a shoe and the fish had to be transported in a reinforced container.
Blue Reef's Lindsay Holloway said:
"We regularly swim with our tropical sharks, but that's a walk in the park when you compare it to the potential danger of these little fish.
"None of us are taking any chances. Whenever we do have to handle him we're going to be very careful indeed and we'll also ensure that another member of staff is present - just in case something does go wrong," he added.
According to marine experts from Australia's Great Barrier Reef:
'The sting causes excruciating pain and a great deal of swelling rapidly develops causing the affected tissue to die.
'The symptoms of the venom are muscle weakness, temporary paralysis and shock - which may result in death if left untreated.'
Anyone unfortunate to be stung is advised to elevate the affected limb and immerse it in hot water or apply a dry heat to the wound.
All Blue Reef aquarists have undergone specialist first aid training and instruction on how to handle the potentially deadly fish.
Capable of surviving for up to 12 hours on land, the stonefish has even killed people out walking on the beach yards away from the sea.