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Irish swimmers warned of rise in 'venomous' weever fish stings

The small fish bury themselves in the sand in shallow water and are “very common” in areas where the tide is low
Neasa Cumiskey

Swimmers have been warned to look out for “venomous” weever fish while out in the sea.

The small fish bury themselves in the sand in shallow water and are “very common” in areas where the tide is low.

Lola O’Sullivan, director of Tramore Surf Life Saving Club in Waterford and volunteer with Water Safety Ireland, said that the weever fish “flick their dorsal fin” into people’s feet as they walk by.

“Like all water animals, they have to protect themselves and when we’re walking out into the water – be it surfing or swimming – if they see a large predator, they’ll flick their dorsal fin into the foot area,” she explained on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“It’s excruciatingly painful and venomous. The pain can last up to two hours or even longer. But the peak of the pain is in the first two hours.”

Lola said that rubber soled swimming shoes are the best way to prevent stinging but anyone who gets nabbed by a reefer fish should approach a lifeguard for help.

“The best treatment for it is to go to a lifeguard and you put your foot in water and heat it up to about 40 degrees. That will release the venom and break down the chemicals in your foot.”

She reminded listeners that the fish are “not there to attack us.”

"They think we’re attacking them,” she added.


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