Photo by Costas Ladas
The Spotted Weever fish are of the family Trachinidae. They are long fish, usually over 30cm when mature mainly brown and have poisonous spines. Their poisonous sting are usually the cause of them hiding in the sand and someone walking over them. Having said that, wear scuba diving books with hard soles as their stings have been known to pass through wetsuits! Other common sites for weever stings tend to be the hands and buttocks! You can guess why…Stings tend to be more common before and after low tide. Avoid these times for bathing if you know the area you are in has a high incidence of weever fish.
The sting itself although extremely painful will not kill you. The pain goes away considerably within a few hours even if untreated. Having said that, significant pain will begin 2 to 3 minutes after being stung by the Spotted Weever and will feel much worse than a bee or wasp sting. Common symptoms of these stings are pain, itching, swelling, redness, numbness, headaches, cramps, nausea, vomiting, tremors and increased urination.
Rarely severe symptoms such as heart dysrythmias, weakness and shortness of breath, seizures, decreased blood pressure, gangrene and tissue necrosis and even unconsciousness. With these things in mind, wearing your boots might protect you but if you believe you are stung by a spotted weever we recommend you stop the dive immediately and exit the water. There is no way to predict if you will be affected mildly or severely and no telling when the onset of the symptoms will be after the prodromal pain stage 2 to 3 minutes after the stinging event.
First Aid for Spotted Weever sting remains as hot water as tolerable by the victim without causing burns or other injury which in theory denatures the toxin protein rendering it useless. Usually pain will subside within 10 to 20 minutes. As a rule of thumb the longer the delay to initiate treatment the longer the treatment needs to be continued for full effect.
Seek medical assistance if any of the severe symptoms are observed in any degree.
Only one recorded death has been attributed to weever fish stings in the UK in 1927 when a fisherman suffered multiple stings. Cause of death was propably a pre-existing medical problem made worse by the weever toxin.
Living to a depth of maximally 100m depth in subtropical regions from Portugal to Angola in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea. Shallow water dweller near rocks and sea grass burrowing in the bottom of the sea floor.
Spotted weever feeds on small fishes and crustaceans. Its poisonous spines are strictly a defense mechanism and is not employed while hunting for prey.
Spawning in July and August the Spotted Weever lay their eggs which measure only 1mm across and their larvae are pelagic, which is to say that they occupy the top part of the sea floating in that specific layer of water.
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