Over 1000 holiday makers around the British coast have had their holidays spoiled after being stung by the venomous Weever fish.
The Weever, Echiichthys viper, has always been present off the south west coast but CEFAS say that rising temperatures have meant that the fish can now be found around the coast with reports of stings as far away as Hastings in East Sussex and Scarborough in North Yorkshire.
The seven year old daughter Matt Slater, curator of the Blue Reef aquarium in Newquay was stung just last week.
Mr Slater told newspapers: "Daisy was lucky because the Weever was small, but the sting is very powerful. Weevers are definitely on the increase. I caught some the other day for the aquarium and I counted 70 in one small pool on the beach."
Weevers found close to the shore are actually lesser weevers and typically measure less than 15cm. They are sandy coloured and spend much of their time buried in the sand with just their venomous dorsal fin above the sand. A bather stepping on the buried fish will typically suffer excruciating pain as the spines embed in the foot and discharge their venom. Whilst the sting is most painful for the first two hours, pain and irritation can last for up to two weeks after the sting.
Treatment of the sting involves putting the affected limb into water hotter than 40°C which causes the protein of the venom to denature (break down). The British Marine Life Study Society recommends wearing shoes whenever paddling in areas known to have weevers.
Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.