Comedian Billy Connolly describes the stonefish as looking kind of cute, a bit like the drummer out of The Muppets. He says that whilst telling a four minute long joke called “the worst pain known to man”.
And apparently, being stung by a stonefish is just that. So, best avoided. Anyone who read my post last week about cone snails will also have read that I pretty much avoid going into the sea, so I am therefore safe from such dangers.
This is not necessarily true in the case of stonefish. Take a look at this….
So, technically I do not have to go into the sea to get nailed by this little critter. You can get hit by one just walking along the beach. But fortunately, not any beach. Stonefish only live in and around the coral reef so you would really need to be on the North-East coast, probably past Fraser Island.
Or so I thought. Then I read about one sighting of a stonefish at Redcliffe on Scarborough Beach! That is probably the nearest beach to where I live.
As you will have seen in the video, the stonefish comes armed with 13 fully loaded venomous spines in their dorsal fins. There are around 1200 venomous fish on this planet and this one is the most lethal. Fortunately there is an antivenom and it is the second most used antivenom on this continent. So people do get bitten, but it’s not very often.
Has anybody ever been killed by a stonefish in Australia? There was one possible death by stonefish recorded on Thursday Island, which is further north than Darwin. But this happened in 1915 and there was some doubt over whether it was a stonefish or not. So I think the safest answer is “no”. But quite a few people have suffered “the worst pain known to man”. Whatever that is!
But from a human, coward, pain avoidance point of view, it’s worth being aware of these creatures. If you watched the video, you may think you’d need to be pretty clumsy to tread on a stonefish, but often they are well buried under the sand. Sometimes about a metre or two from the shore, just about exactly where it’s nice to paddle.
Now isn’t that a scary thought?