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Weever Fish

Image courtesy of Matt Slater, Cornwall Wildlife Trust. 

You can find weever fish all around the British coast but only in sandy areas. They are usually near the low water mark where the water is warmer and shallower. The weever fish encountered on the beach is known as the Lesser Weever fish. Although its sting can pack a considerable punch it is relatively small, measuring up to 14cm long. The weever fish is an ambush predator. they bury themselves in the sand leaving only their head and back exposed. It does this to keep as inconspicuous as possible. This is in order to surprise and eat any small fish or shrimp that venture too close.

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It is unlikely that when visiting the beach that you will spot a weever fish. However, you will know you have found one if you are unfortunate enough to tread on one as it has poisonous spines. These spines are a defence mechanism as the fish is vulnerable to predators when it is partially buried. The poisonous spines keep these predators at bay.

The sting of a weever fish can be very painful. At first it feels like a sharp stab but this pain can increase quickly. The pain can last for up to 24 hours. It is therefore important to treat a sting quickly with hot water.  You should immerse the affected area in hot water (as hot as can be tolerated) for 30-90 minutes. However, be careful not to burn your skin. Hot water helps breakdown the poison. It also increases blood flow to the sting causing natural cleansing and healing. You should seek medical advice if you have any concerns following a weever fish sting.

To avoid the chance of being stung it is advisable to wear beach shoes or wetsuit boots when in the sea at low water. This will provide a barrier between the poisonous spines and your foot.