A 29 year old man has been left with the 'beak' of a needlefish stuck in his face after it leapt from the sea and impaled him below the nose.
Experts from the Department of Otolarynology at Israel's Meir Medical Centre in Kfar Saba said that the man was admitted to the hospital after the fish hit him in the face, and left its toothy jaws wedged in the hole.
The fish apparently leapt from the sea and impaled the man at the side of the nose. It's jaws hit with such force that they pierced his naval cavity, went through his maxillary sinus and stopped just short of the wall of his eye socket.
According to a paper due to be published in the Journal of Craniomaxillofacial Surgery, surgeons managed to remove the jaws of the needlefish and the patient was discharged with no further complications.
First for Mediterranean
The authors said that the incident was the first recorded needlefish injury to occur in the Mediterranean basin.
Ebner and co-authors said that fish inflicted facial injuries were underestimated, but could cause deep facial injuries and harm vital cranial structures, so it was vital for medical professionals to examine wounds thoroughly.
The research team warn that the fish pose a risk to fishermen, divers and marine biologists in tropical and subtropical regions of all oceans.
Although the report sounds unusual, there have been several other cases of people being impaled by similar species of fish.
In 2004, scienists from an eye clinic in Guadeloupe reported that a patient checked in to the University of Guadeloupe's Eye Clinic five days after a needlefish impaled his eye socket. See: Flying fish jumps into man's eye.
The fish caused a serious injury to the optic nerve as it tried to flap free, and pieces of bone from the fish's pointed jaws snapped off damaging the orbit of the patient's eye.
Despite operating on the wound, cleaning it and removing the bone fragments, the man lost his sight.
In 2005, a 19 year old Hawaiian man was rushed into intensive care after a four-foot long needlefish impaled him in the chest while he was on a night dive off Kahana Bay. See: Another teenager attacked by a fish
The man, Tonga "Piu" Loumouli, was rescued by his friend who managed to pull him into their dinghy and drag him for nearly a mile before getting help from a police officer.
Following the incident, Loumouli was attached to a machine to assist his breathing and was unable to speak. However, he was able to write a note to his mother and sister, which read: "I'm going to quit diving."
For more information see the paper: Ebner Y, Golani D, Ophir D and Y Finkelstein (2009) - Penetrating injury of the maxilla by needlefish jaws. J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2009 Jan 20.