Home Environment The Stingers! Lion, Scorpion and Stone

The Stingers! Lion, Scorpion and Stone

The family Scorpaenidae is composed by several subfamilies which have in common a large and spiny head with a bony crest on the cheek.

They all wear venomous spines. The stings create a strong pain and a numb of the area injured and an extreme weakness.


This impressive defense way is also a system of preys capture. Usually on the bottom or hided under rocks or in corals, they are all carnivorous feeding crustaceans and fishes.


The Common Lionfish hunts sometimes during the day in blue water, amongst schools of small fishes. It takes characteristic attitudes: Fins opened and head down in order to attract fishes between their spines and to swallow them. They use also this comportment in order to repulse one intruder showing it their dorsal fin and their spines.

Others as the Scorpionfishes and Stonefishes prefer the camouflage technique in order to avoid predators and to feed. They are similar to the environment hunting on the lookout during the day and actively during the night. The inflicted injuries by the dorsal fin of these fishes are considered as the more dangerous venomous injuries and are potentially fatal.

The Lionfish sub family is colorful with red, purple, yellow and white straps. The pectoral and dorsal fins are long. The venomous system is composed by 6 to 13 dorsal spines. The pain is very strong during few hours with a swelling more or lest important decreases in the time. Usually, they hide during the day and hunt ay night. The Scorpionfish sub family is more or less colored and use the camouflage technique.

The venomous system is composed by 12 dorsal, one pectoral and three anal pines. The venom glands are inside the tissues around the spine. After the sting, the venom and some fragments of tissues stay inside the injury. From this fact, appear toxic effects and inflammations due to the presence of intruders in the skin, strong pain and swelling.


The Stonefish sub family uses the infallible camouflage technique. Their skin less colorful and irregular produces mucus helping to fix algae, coral debris or sand in order to increase their invisibility. The venomous system is composed by 13 dorsal erectable spines and pectoral and anal venomous spines.

These fishes are considered as the more venomous in the world. The venom is toxic for muscle, heart, neurons and blood. It is thermo labile around 50 degrees Celsius. The symptoms and gravity are depending on the injected dose of venom, the size of the fish and the subject injured. The pain is brutal and appears a swelling of the area and a cyanosis. The person can feel nausea and vertigo. Breathing or heat distresses can be fatal.  Some fatalities can appear by secondary complications as infections in lymph or blood or
by tetanus. Fortunately, stings are rare and most of the time under feet.

REPRODUCTION: a sexual reproduction provides ovoid or round eggs which are 1 mm size and larvae are pelagic. Drifting in current, the tiny juveniles stop on the bottom.

Treatment for Scorpaenidae injury:

- Immediately remove the injuried victim from the water to avoid sinking
- Immediately immerse the lesion in hot water for up to one hour. Do not use more than 45 degrees Celsius to avoid burning
- Breathing and heart medical check and act if necessary
- Prevent Choc and infections
- Only one serum is actually efficient against Stonefish injuries: Stonefish antivenin Common Wealth Serum Laboratories, Department of Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


PREVENTION


- Do not touch anything under water
- Wear shoes with strong sole if you need to walk in Indo-Pacific Ocean lagoons
- Do not walk on stony bottoms and coral reefs

CONCLUSION

Enjoy the beauty of these fishes which are dangerous only for irresponsible divers, snorkelers or swimmers!

 

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John Kean is author of 'SS Thistlegorm, The True Story of the Red Sea's Greatest Ship Wreck'. He is also a board member of Sharm El Sheikh's SSDM
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