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Angler warns bathers after poisonous fish twice take bait off pier

PUBLISHED: 11:26 28 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:12 28 October 2017

A weever fish at SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

A weever fish at SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

A Suffolk angler has warned beach goers to watch out for venomous fish after landing two in quick succession on his last trip to the seaside.

Mike Stiff, from Grundisburgh, has warned beach goers about weever fish after he caught two off Southwold. Picture: RUTH LEACH Mike Stiff, from Grundisburgh, has warned beach goers about weever fish after he caught two off Southwold. Picture: RUTH LEACH

Mike Stiff, 81, from Grundisburgh, near Woodbridge, was startled to catch a pair of weever fish off Southwold Pier.

Found in shallow British waters, usually during warm summer months, the weever fish is classified as an ‘ambush predator’ spending most of the day buried in the shallows, displaying only its eyes and dorsal spikes.

If stood on by an unsuspecting bather, the weever’s dark tipped spines can inject a painful venom.

Mr Stiff was fishing from the pier when two weevers took his bait. They were among nine species of fish he caught that day including a small haul of bass and cod he took home.

“When I caught the first one, I thought ‘what’s that?’ he said.

“At first I thought it might be a rockling, but when I touched it, up came the dorsal fin.

“I recognised it as a weever fish because I’ve caught them in the past but not for a long time.

“Having caught two in the same day, I’m concerned for other people.

“If you touch the dorsal fin, they can inject poison into you.

“They have a venomous dark dorsal fin, which will raise if touched. If it makes contact with your skin, it will cause severe pain.

“Luckily, I identified them both within a good day’s fishing, before taking them off the hook

“Anglers and children should be aware that these fish are around these shores.”

Bex Lynam, marine advocacy officer for North Sea Wildlife Trusts, said increased sea temperatures may encourage more weever fish to an area.

“It’s acknowledged that weever fish move into shallower coastal waters during the summer months, due to the increased sea temperatures,” she added.

“This is why incidents of stings from weever fish increase during this time, as it’s much easier for people to stand on them in the coastal shallows and for anglers to catch them.”

The only treatment for a weever fish sting is to soak the affected area in hot water, above 40C, breaking down the venom’s protein.

In areas of darker sand, the weever fish has developed white tipped spines and can be seen more clearly.

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