August = Weeverfish = Boots on!
Now you might be forgiven for thinking that the Weeverfish have something to do with hair pieces or the Bayeux tapestry. NO, that is not the case! They are actually the most venomous fish found in European coastal waters.
Irish Water Safety CEO John Leech is warning swimmers, surfers and all beach users to watch out for the little sandy coloured fish that lives in the sea on our beaches. Should a bather step on a weeverfish then the pain is excruciating as the spines embed into the human flesh and discharge their poison.
The weeverfish spends most of the time buried under the sand with just its venomous black dorsal fin showing above the sandy bottom. The fish grows to a maximum length of 15 centimetres. The Weaver fish can be found all round the Irish coast but they are particular to sandy areas where the water is warm and shallow, and close to the mean low-water tide line.
A great older surfer once told me that wearing boots wouldn’t let me be “at one with my board, man” (thank you to Ben’s Surf Clinic) so I decided not to wear boots despite lots of fellow surfers warning me I should.
I was under the impression at the time that I was in fact, a two footed mermaid of the sea. Complete with sea fleas, green glitter eyeliner, lipgloss, hair products and mascara (none waterproof). I thought nothing would harm me…
When I stepped on the weeverfish, it felt like what I would imagine being bitten/stung by a jelly fish would be like… (not that I had ever previously been bitten/stung by a jelly fish) so I kept trying to surf. (#wellhard) Twenty minutes after being stung it was too painful to even stand on the board so I got out of the water and I found myself being accompanied by a young David Hasselhoff to the lifeguard station.
Rubber gloves, a washing up bowl and boiling hot water were applied to the injured foot. It was quite painful. (Ed – understatement alert! – See footnote)
The young boy/man/lifeguard did save me! He got the sting out of my foot! Hot water seems to make the venom less toxic. The recommendation is to soak the bite in almost scalding water for at least half an hour. I was totally surprised and shocked to find my foot and leg numb (ish) for nearly two weeks afterwards.
The moral of this story is, don’t live in the moment, don’t try anything “different”, don’t follow your basic instincts, always be safe and try not to leave the house and remember there are other less painful ways to attract attention to oneself.
Surf Bitch Ellen
Footnote: Ellen’s ‘Quite painful’ is more clearly described here by proper medical types over on emedicinehealth.com as “total body (also called systemic) symptoms such as fever, chills, seizures, fainting, nausea, low blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular or extra heart beats), headaches, sweating, and difficulty breathing”
If you are heading for the coast for some beach action, here are links to the recent weeverfish warning, and some tips for immediate action if you do get bitten. Also, any ideas you might have about peeing on the bite won’t help. (Unless of course, that sort of thing generally cheers you up…)
Links and tips