Bathers stung by poisonous fish on beach

Weeverfish
Weeverfish

A YOUNG girl and a teenager were left in “extreme” pain after being stung by fish on a Hartlepool beach.

The eight-year-old girl and the 17-year-old boy were with their families and friends at Seaton Carew beach on Tuesday when they were each stung by Weever fish in separate incidents.

The pair, who were not part of the same party, had been paddling in the water when they were stung by the fish which bury themselves in the sand, so they can’t be seen.

The fish, which are usually about six inches long, have spikes along the dorsal fin which, if stood on, release a small amount of venom into the skin causing extreme pain and the foot to turn red and swollen.

The young girl was stung at around 1.30pm, and the teen at about 2.10pm. They each sought help from Hartlepool Borough Council’s lifeguards who treated them at their lifeguard station which is located on the beach.

The guards used hot water on their patients’ painful feet to expand the puncture wounds so that the venomous spikes can be eased out.

Debbie Kershaw, the council’s quality and safety officer who co-ordinates the lifeguards, said: “We had quite a busy day with a couple of incidents of people being stung by Weever fish.

“The fish have small spikes along their dorsal fin and they embed themselves under the sand and people can get puncture wounds in their feet if they stand on them.

“We had a young girl and a teenage boy being stung by them yesterday, and it is extremely painful. Our lifeguards used hot water, as hot as the person can handle, and that expands the wounds and the venomous spikes then drop out.

“The hot water also helps blood get to the area because you have something in your blood which neutralises the venom as well.”

She added: “It is very painful, and we normally only get about three or four cases a year, but on Tuesday we were surprised to have had two.”

In a bid to beat the Weever fish, Debbie says bathers should always wear shoes, if not just to protect them from the spikes, but also to prevent them being cut by glass or even sharp stones that lie in the sand both in and out of the water.

Debbie said: “I would advise wearing footwear all the time on the beach because you just don’t know what is lying about.”

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