The most venomous fish in the world is the stonefish. They sit in exposed sand and mud in tide pools and change colors to camouflage themselves, so mistaking them for a rock or coral is easy to do. Doing so could be disastrous. By stepping on or getting spiked by the spines, a person gets an injection of venom that inflicts a pain so intense, some victims opt for amputation. Worse, it can cause death if left untreated.
So you can imagine the fear level last week when a stonefish, usually found in the Indo-Pacific oceans, was caught by a Kenyan fisherman in Mombasa, Kenya, where beach-goers best tread lightly. KTN Kenya has the report:
In addition to being found in the Indo-Pacific oceans, stonefish are also found off Florida and the Caribbean–and now Kenya.
Adding to the scary profile of the stonefish is the fact they can live up to 24 hours out of water. But it’s those poisonous spines that are hidden land mines in a tide pool that create the biggest fear.
A stonefish victim told Wikipedia: “I got spiked on the finger by a stonefish in Australia … never mind a bee sting. … Imagine having each knuckle, then the wrist, elbow and shoulder being hit in turn with a sledgehammer over the course of about an hour. Then about an hour later imagine taking a real kicking to both kidneys for about 45 minutes so that you couldn’t stand or straighten up.
“I was late 20s, pretty fit physically and this was the tiniest of nicks. Got sensation back in my finger after a few days but had recurrent kidney pains periodically for several years afterwards.”
Yeouch. Ah, but there is some good news about the stonefish.
An official from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute said there is no harm in eating cooked stonefish, that when poison is exposed to heat it will die.
Well now, that’s reassuring. Uh, bon appetit?