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Norwich Bulletin - 5/2/2010

Bits and Pieces

Well I am back to those ten creatures from your worst nightmares list and I want to introduce you to the stonefish. This is the world’s most poisonous fish, and unlike most poisonous things, it is ugly. In fact, it is probably the ugliest fish in the world too. It is often remarked that when a stone fish attacks a human being, the pain is so severe that the person wants to amputate the area affected. Its bite may not be lethal if it can be treated within hours; but if left untreated for more than two to three hours, a bite from the stone fish can result in death for the unlucky person who was bitten.

The Stonefish makes its unwelcome home in the Great Barrier Reef. A popular scuba diving spot, the Stonefish looks more like a stone than an actual stone does. They tend to inhabit shallow waters along the coast and stay well camouflaged in the ocean. Being brownish in color, it strongly resembles a rock. That’s all well and good. But I am not really thrilled with the idea of the thirteen dorsal spines on its back, each which can inject an extremely toxic venom that will kill an adult human in less than two hours.

And the symptoms of this venom seem to start right away; intense pain lasting half a day, nausea, tremors, abnormal heartbeats, seizures and paralysis. And then after all of that…..… death. So people who choose to swim in the ocean, need to take care, as they can unknowingly step on a Stonefish and have venom injected into their foot.

The stonefish feeds on other small fish or shrimp.

The stonefish lives primarily above the tropic of Capricorn. Its main habitat is on coral reefs, near and about rocks, or can be found dormant in the mud or sand.

The sting causes excruciating pain and a great deal of swelling rapidly develops causing death to tissues. The severity of the symptoms depends on the depth of penetration and the number of spines penetrated. The symptoms of the venom are muscle weakness, temporary paralysis and shock, which may result in death if not treated.

So if you happen to be visiting in Australia, India or China, and get bit by one of these ugly fish with warty skin, do not attempt to restrict the movement of the injected toxin. Bathing or immersing the stung area in hot water may be effective in reducing the pain. You will need to get to the nearest medical centre as hospitalization for intravenous narcotic analgesia, local anaesthetic infiltration or regional block may be required. And this is the reason I do not go into any water outside other than a swimming pool or a Jacuzzi,

Answers to last weeks questions: Cats: Dina and the Cheshire cat; Custard; Si and Am; Garfield; Sylvester; Midnight Louie; Lucifer; Cat in the Hat; Heathcliff; Tiger; Felix the Cat; Joe Grey, Dulcie and Kit; Henrietta Pussycat; Stimpy; Thomasina; Koko and Yum Yum; Kit; and Piewacket. Dogs: Cujo; Chief and Copper; Fang; Krypto; Nana; Asta; Camille; Scooby Doo; White Fang; Bolivar; Pac-Man; Rin Tin Tin; Brandon; Laddie; Lassie; Porthos; Zero; Marmaduke; Snoopy; and Toto. Dog and Cat: Dogbert and Catbert. Hope you enjoyed it last week.

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