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Heading to the beach? Watch out for weever fish, say lifeguards
9:34am Thursday 11th July 2013 in News
A DAY-OUT at a Bournemouth beach ended in agony for several swimmers when they were stung by weever fish buried in the sand.
Southbourne Surf Life Saving Club chairman Bill Ezekiel told the Daily Echo how volunteers have given first-aid to eight beach-goers on Sunday alone.
He said: “Weever fish bury themselves in the sand at low tide so they can ambush small shrimp. They don’t like being trodden on; young children are the most common victims because they are more likely to paddle.
“The sting comes from a hollow bone in the dorsal fin of the fish; when you tread on it a small amount of potent venom will be injected. This is protein based and is very painful; it feels like you have trodden on a stone or a piece of glass. Sometimes you can see a couple of tiny puncture wounds on the skin. There will be little evidence of injury but a great deal of pain.”
Lifeguards use hot water to treat the stings. Mr Ezekiel said: “The heat of the water will cook the protein and increase blood flow. The sooner the foot is put in hot water the better; it can take up to 30 minutes to reduce the pain to a comfortable level.”
Mr Ezekiel hasn’t seen any jelly fish this year. However, he warned beach-goers to avoid playing with a dead jelly washed up on a beach as they can still sting.
He added: “Avoid touching the stung area or pulling any tentacles off; they are still potentially active. One treatment is vinegar but this doesn’t work for a Portuguese man-of-war when the tentacles need to be washed off with water. These are extremely rare in our waters but we have a smaller, non-stinging ‘by the wind sailor’ that looks very similar.”
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