Reef Stonefish

The reef stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa) is a species of stonefish found on reef bottoms. The reef stonefish camouflages with the reef floor so it won’t be spotted by potential prey. It is the most venomous known fish in the world which can be lethal to humans.

This stonefish is usually brown or gray, and it may have areas of yellow, orange or red. They can grow to be about 30-40cm long. This stonefish lives primarily above the Tropic of Capricorn. It is the most widespread species in the stonefish family and is known from shallow tropical marine waters in the Pacific and Indian Oceans from the Red Sea to the Great Barrier Reef. There is also evidence showing that the reef stonefish may exist within the Mediterranean Sea.

The reef stonefish eats mostly small fish, shrimp, and other crustaceans.

Effects of the venom include severe pain, shock, paralysis, and tissue death. A large dose can be fatal to humans, generally young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. Medical treatment includes the antivenom. A local anesthetic can reduce the pain. First aid includes immersion of the affected limb in hot water; this is thought to help denature the proteins in the venom. The immobilization of venom at penetration site using a tourniquet or firm constrictive bandaging is no longer recommended. Surviving victims may have nerve damage, which can lead to local muscle atrophy.

The primary commercial significance of this stonefish is as an aquarium pet. It is also sold for meat in Hong Kong markets. It is consumed in the Philippines, especially in Chinese restaurants, and in Japan.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Stonefish are relatively common in my area (Mactan Island, Cebu). They aren’t everywhere, but you have a good chance of seeing one on any particular dive… if, that is, you even know you’re looking at one!

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