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Interesting Facts about Weever Fish

[Phylum: Chordata] [Class: Actinopterygii] [Order: Trachiniformes] [Family: Trachinidae]

Despite spending most of their life buried in sand, or because of it, the weever fish sting is one of the most serious and venomous fish spine injuries to avoid.

This segment contains facts and information about weever fish, including where they're found, what they eat, and what to do if you get stung by a weever.

Weeverfish Species Habitat and Distribution

The poisonous weever fish is most commonly found near the northern coastal areas of Europe.

But, some weever fish species also exist in shallow shorelines around:

The main reason why weever fish are dangerous is because they bury themselves in the substrate on the sea bed, such as the sand, mud, or gravel of littoral and benthic zones.

As a result, you will not be able to see them from above the water because they burrow into the sand to hide from their predators.

A sharp venomous dorsal fin stands proud above the sandy bottom. In fact, it's not uncommon to see several rows of vertical black triangular spikes scattered along the bottom of the sea.

Pro Tip: In most cases, the only body parts left uncovered are the eyes and the tip of the fish's first black dorsal fin. Its venomous poison, and proximity to sandy holiday beaches, are what makes this a particularly dangerous fish around the coastal resort areas of the Mediterranean.

Weever Fish Behaviour and Characteristics

Like most cartilaginous fish (e.g. sharks and marine rays), weevers do not have a swim bladder. As a consequence, they have a lot of difficulty controling their buoyancy when they move.

So, when a weever stops swimming it starts to sink - often in an abrupt manner. So, the fish limits its movements to save energy.

Here's the thing:

For the most part, weevers are shy and timid in nature. Nevertheless, they will strike with pinpoint accuracy if they feel threatened.

It's fair to call them a grumpy looking fish with an upturned mouth and bulbous eyes sitting quite high on top of its head.

The general colour of the body tapering is pale yellow and brown as it stretches down to the tail. The sharp spikes on the first dorsal fin and gill covers are the location points for the protein based venom.

How Big are Weever Fish?

Most of the weever fish species grow between fifteen and thirty five (35) centimetres long (around 14 inches). The lesser weever is the smallest in the clade.

In the United Kingdom, the biggest is the greater weever (Trachinus draco). It can measure forty (40) centimetres long (20 inches) and weigh up to two (2) kilograms (about 4 pounds).

Weever Fish Species List

Thanks to some zany scientists, there's a long list of funny sea creature names in the taxonomic system. However, excluding the extinct Monte Bolca lagerstätte (Callipterys speciosus), there are nine surviving species of weevers (often called weeverfish or weaver fish) of the family Trachinidae:

Some of the common names for weevers include the adder-pike, sea cat, sea dragon, and viperfish (although it's not related to the genus Chauliodus). They also call some grey mullets (sand perches) weevers in Australia, and "weever" translates to "spider-fish" in Portugal.

What Do Weever Fish Eat?

Weevers are diurnal, meaning they eat during the daytime. Thus, whilst buried in sand, they keep watch for their preferred diet of small juvenile fishes, marine crustaceans, fish fry, and shrimps, and snatch them when they get close enough.

Weever Fish Sting Symptoms

Compared with the total number of scuba diving deaths per year, weever fish stings are not common at all. Even so, they have up to eight needle-sharp dorsal spines that are about five centimetres long (almost 2 inches).

Each fin tip contains a powerful venom. The small fish can extend its spines and inject poison into its prey or into human skin - especially if provoked (e.g. trodden on).

Furthermore, weever fish can survive out of water for a while. As a result, the venom can stay active for several hours, even if the fish is dead.

In case you were wondering:

The pain from a weever sting feels similar to that of a bee sting. Hence, it's painful for several hours, but rarely life threatening. After being stung, the pain usually goes away within twenty four (24) hours.

Typical symptoms of the sting from a weever fish include:

Important: It's not uncommon for some victims to develop an allergic reaction to weever sting, such as breathing issues, low blood pressure, and heart palpitations. If so, the person will need urgent medical care (e.g. at a local hospital).

How to Treat a Weever Fish Sting?

The recommended first aid treatment for any fish spine injury is straightforward. The aim is to destroy the protein by "cooking" it.

Soak the injury site in hot water (but not scalding) for a minimum of fifteen (15) minutes. When the pain starts to decrease, you may be able to remove the fish spikes with tweezers.

Pro Tip: Another section explains more about passive interaction with sea life, including expert tips and advice for avoiding stings from hazardous marine creatures.

Related Information and Help Guides

Note: The short video [1:03 seconds] presented by "National Marine Aquarium" contains footage of weever fish burrying themselves into the sand.

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