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Venomous Fish That Can Paralyse And Kill Humans Found In UK Waters For 'First Time'

Jess Hardiman


Venomous Fish That Can Paralyse And Kill Humans Found In UK Waters For 'First Time'

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

A venomous lionfish has been caught off the coast of Dorset, making it potentially the first-ever sighting of the fish in UK waters.

The six-inch fish was found on Thursday (30 September) off Chesil Beach by 39-year-old Arfon Summers, who was fishing with his dad Bill, 75.

Native to the tropical reefs of the Pacific Ocean, lionfish are a group of colourful striped fish with venomous spikes, which can cause severe pain when touched.

They can even lead to death among humans, although this is said to be rare.

Speaking to The Sun, Arfon - of Hengoed, Caerphilly - said: "My mind was blown, a lionfish is a new off shore personal best.

"It's no doubt the ocean is getting warmer to house these. I didn't let it go due to it being an invasive species."

Dad Bill added: "I'm just glad the thing didn't sting him. It must make him a British record holder if no one else has caught one."

Stock image of a common lionfish. Credit: Alamy
Stock image of a common lionfish. Credit: Alamy

Nevin Hunter, Marine Coodinator at the Angling Trust, said people are being encouraged to be 'vigilant' in the waters, as a sting from the lionfish could prove nasty.

He told the outlet: "A sting will easily put you in hospital and could kill.

"We have urged all fishermen to be vigilant."

Leading lionfish expert Jason Hall-Spencer, of Plymouth University, also said: "These predators can give a nasty sting and can kill. It's easy to get stung if you're swimming or snorkelling.

"[...] The water is warm enough, so a lionfish could have swum over here from the western Mediterranean. If it has, it means there will likely be more and it could have huge consequences for our native species."

According to Tynemouth Aquarium, lionfish can be dangerous to humans 'due to their potent venom, but incidents of people being stung are infrequent and rarely fatal'.

"A lionfish sting is, however, likely to have some fairly unpleasant effects, from extreme pain and nausea, to convulsions, dizziness, fever and numbness," the aquarium says.

"Because lionfish are predatory marine animals, there have been reports of aggression towards divers and fishermen. Such behaviour is, however, likely to be purely defensive, with the fish using their lethal spines to fend off those it deems a threat."

The find could have huge consequences for the UK's native species, meaning experts are keen to find out how it arrived here.

While there is a chance the fish could have been intentionally or inadvertently released from the aquarium trade, it is possible that it arrived in the UK by itself.

Dr Oliver Crimmen, the Senior Curator of Fish at the Natural History Museum, says the discovery is important and needs to be verified.

"It is important to establish the circumstances of the catch, and to obtain the body if possible to establish which species of lionfish it is," he said.

"If it arrived in the UK by itself from more southerly latitudes, this could be bad news since it is such a potentially invasive species."

Stock image of a common lionfish. Credit: Alamy
Stock image of a common lionfish. Credit: Alamy

He continued: "Anything caught in the Mediterranean can be found as a vagrant in the UK.

"The first instances of warm water fish from more southerly latitudes being found in the UK are a subject of great interest, as they may represent populations moving northward in response to higher coastal water temperatures."

According to Medscape, the only known remedy for a lionfish sting is to remove the spines and soak the wound in hot water no hotter than 45.6° Celsius, which helps break down the toxin.

You should also seek medical attention urgently.

Topics: UK News, Fish, News, Animals

Jess Hardiman
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