Recognizing and Treating Weever Fish Stings

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Weever fish stings are amongst the venomous stings

in the temperate zone. The weever fish, sometimes also spelled as weaver fish, is considered more venomous than many jellyfish and as poisonous as the stingray. The highly dangerous fish are primarily found near the beaches or shorelines as they live in warm shallow water. Weever fish are docile and attack only when they feel provoked. They are sometimes called “sea dragon,” “sea cat,” “stang” and “adder-pike.”

Weever fish usually have a sandy brown appearance and typically camouflage withthe sand. Their poisonous spines, which inject the venom to their victims, are located on their first dorsal fin and gills. Each weever fish has four to eight long “spines.” Weever fish are usually buried in the sand, thus the most common sting sites are the feet and hands, when they are stepped on. Although they are extremely undesirable, weever fish stings do not usually cause serious harm and pain eventually subsides within a few hours even if they untreated.Fishermen and tourists are their most frequent victims. Fortunately, chances of getting stung are relatively low.

Weever Fish Stings Symptoms

It may sometimes be hard to distinguish what kind of marine animal causes damage to the victims as symptoms are generally similar in all stings. The following symptoms are generally associated with weever fish sting:

  • Instant burning or crushing pain, which usually spreads to the entire limb
    • Peaks within half an hour to two hours and subsides by 24 hours
    • Sometimes persists for a few days
  • Redness, bruising and warmth on the puncture site for six to twelve hours
  • Swelling, which may last a week
  • Itching
  • Wound
  • Fever and chills
  • Sweating
  • Fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • In severe cases:
    • Hypotension
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Weakness
    • Shaking
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Cardiac arrhythmia

Weever Fish Stings Treatment

Infections are commonly associated with weever fish stings and thus it is necessary to give first aid immediately to avoid infections and other complications. First aid includes the following procedure:

  • Immerse the affected area in hot water, the hottest the person can tolerate without causing burns. Do this for 30 to 90 minutes or until there is substantial pain relief. Do not use urine, vinegar, ammonia or other substances.
  • Pain medications may be taken. Narcotics do not always work in weever fish stings.
  • Do not attempt to remove the spines by self. An experienced person should remove it.
  • Do not close the wound as it will increase the risks for infection. Allow the wound to drain.
    Weever Fish Stings first aid

    Weever Fish Stings first aid

Weever Fish Stings Prevention

The spines of weever fish are generally capable of penetrating through materials such as leather, thus one must add extra precaution when going to beaches in temperate zones. There is no antivenin available for weever fish stings. Several tips are advised:

  • Shuffle feet when walking in shorelines to avoid weever fish and other coastal marine species
  • Do not touch dead fish as toxins may remain active for a few hours.

Disclaimer: The information presented should not be used as medical advice or substitute for first aid training. To learn how to treat weever fish stings and bites of other marine species and a wide variety of animals, enroll in First Aid Courses and CPR training.

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  • All cprlevelc.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.