Caution urged against venomous fish in NSW

Industry & Investment NSW issues warning after one of the most venomous fishes in the world is discovered on NSW Central Coast

Industry & Investment (I&I) NSW Fisheries experts are reminding water-users on the NSW Mid North Coast to keep a lookout for stonefish, which are among the most venomous fish in the world.

Industry & Investment NSW Wild Fisheries research leader, Dr Charles Gray, said the warning follows the sighting of a reef stonefish on the NSW Central Coast.

"Reef Stonefish are extremely well camouflaged, and look like an encrusted rock or lump of coral," Dr Gray said. "They usually live on rubble or coral bottoms, and often under rocks or ledges, and grow to 35cm in length."

In Australia, the Reef Stonefish is recorded predominantly in Queensland, down to northern New South Wales.

"There are many risks when you enter the water, and stonefish are one of them, and all water users in NSW are encouraged to exercise caution when in the water, and on the beach," Dr Gray said.

"Reef Stonefish have many short dorsal fin spines which can inject extremely poisonous venom, which causes intense pain to the victim."

Reef Stonefish do not generally swim away when disturbed. Instead, they erect their poisonous dorsal fin spines as a defense mechanism.

Most stonefish stings occur when stepped on, and medical treatment should be sought immediately. An anti-venom is available if any person suffers a stonefish sting. Initially, very hot water (but not scalding) can be used to relieve the pain.

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