Thursday, 1 March 2007

Danger ! Weever

Lesser Weever, Don't grab this one to unhook it !

This little fish which is usually less than 10cm long is the Lesser Weever that can be commonly caught along the south coast in the summer. The fish in the photograph was caught at Branksome Chine, Bournemouth. The spines on its back, and on the gill covers, contain venom which causes pain and swelling, the spines are black tipped and are erected when the fish feels threatened. It is possible, at first sight, to think that you have caught a small whiting or a poor cod; however this fish is gold-brown and not silver. The weever's eyes are placed for looking up as it spends its time lying in the sand. Most people who get stung by this fish tread on it whilst paddling on sandy beaches.Look carefully before grabbing it, especially if the fish is partially obscured by weed. Hold the fish in a cloth to unhook it and put it back.
If you do get stung, don't panic, treatment is simple and effective. Heat will make the venom break down, use coffee from your flask or hot water wherever it can be got and treat the affected part with liquid, as hot as can be tolerated, on a cloth over the area. The sting can cause problems to anyone with a weak heart but normal heathy people should not be too concerned.
Many other fish get stamped on and killed because stupid people don't know what fish they have caught and kill anything that looks ugly. The Sea Scorpion (or
the Long-spined Bullhead) gets this treatment, it is a very ugly little fish with all sorts of spikes on it and a threatening and misleading name. It is not poisonous, just uncomfortable to hold, and the worst it will do to you is grunt and growl at you. Another ugly little fish is the dragonet, I've seen people killing these too.
There is also a Greater Weever which is not often caught from the shore.The examples I have caught from boats have very pretty electric blue colouration among the brown markings.Some people rate them as a food fish.

No comments: