Warnings Over Weever Fish On The South Coast

A Portsmouth fisherman's found a poisonous Weever fish - Britain's most dangerous marine creature.

It's now living at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Southsea, prompting a warning from staff.

The aquarium says the chances of getting stung are slight but says bathers and surfers should be on their guard against the fish which lie half-buried in shallow water.

Despite most measuring less than six centimetres, Weevers are believed to be Britain’s most dangerous marine species.

Once trodden on the fish use 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.

If left untreated it will continue feeling numb until the following day and some pain may last for up to two weeks. If the spine actually breaks off in the foot it will cause discomfort until it is removed.

Blue Reef‘s Lindsay Holloway said:

“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.

“If you do get stung the most effective treatment is to put the affected limb in very warm water – although not too hot or you risk scalding,”

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

Initially the sting feels 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.

The majority of reports of stings occur during the summer months - not because the fish are more numerous inshore at this time of year but because more people take to the water as sea temperatures rise.

Despite its evil reputation the Weever is actually a very gentle fish which rarely reaches lengths of more than four inches. Its poisonous dorsal spine is used as a last-ditch defence against would be attackers.