A. Following a recent trip to the local sea life centre, my curious six year old
asked “Dad, what’s the most poisonous fish in the world?” Interesting question I
thought. So what’s the answer?
Well, the Stonefish (from the Synanceiidae family)is officially considered to be
the most poisonous fish in the world. Found largely in the coastal regions of the
Indo-Pacific oceans (in particular around coral reefs, though some do inhabit rivers),
it takes on its name because it basically looks just like a stone!
The venomous part of the stonefish is the dorsal (back) area which is lined with
13 needle-like spines filled with a deadly toxin. The spines erect when pressured
or when the stonefish is threatened, for example by sea-bottom feeding creatures
such as rays or sharks.
Stonefish are not harmful to people unless they are stepped on (or caught and mishandled).
Unfortunately, their very effective camouflage has led numerous divers to stand on
them thinking them to be only stones. Once stung, the venom can cause shock, temporary
paralysis, muscle weakness and tissue death. Reports say that the pain is so excruciating
that people have begged to have their limb amputated – eeek!
Ultimately, if left untreated, the sting from a stonefish can be fatal.