PHOTO: Kayaker Comes Across Stonefish, World’s Deadliest Fish

by Jon D. B.

Only in Australia can a kayaker spot the world’s most venomous fish, the stonefish, while casually paddling a small creek near the ocean.

Such was the case for Jennifer Taylor and her friends, who posted the following photo to the Australian Native Animals Facebook page. And yes, of course the world’s most venomous fish lives in Australia.

The small fish, who have crumply little faces only a mother could love, sport a pair of highly venomous barbs on their dorsal fins. One sting can kill a grown human within an hour. And if a victim survives, they still might be in for months – or years – of pain and paralysis.

At first, Taylor’s fellow kayakers simply spotted a “blob” floating toward the top of the creek. Deciding to scoop it up onto her bright yellow paddle, they got a much closer look. There sat a stonefish, looking as grumpy as one would expect.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it, but my partner and friend saw their first wild stonefish today! Near Townville, in saltwater,” Taylor posts to the Australian Facebook group.

Spot the deadly little bugger for yourself below:

After a fever of comments, Taylor herself added that the stonefish popped up in a “saltwater creek and mangroves, about 300 meters up from the ocean; creek is short, probably only 500 meters, all saltwater.”

Deadly Stonefish Sting in Unexpected Way

Perhaps the most telling of these comments comes courtesy of one Australian who says they “had a friend step on one these ugly things about 20 years ago… They were in hospital for 3 months, nearly died twice.”

Ever the honest sailor, Taylor admits she isn’t knowledgeable on stonefish herself. Honesty, Jennifer, not many of us are. Count this wildlife technician and author amongst those who have scarcely heard of their existence.

Jennifer does, however, note that this little one “was probably sick or injured for it to be swimming so close to the surface and easy to scoop up.”

As for stonefish themselves, the species is exceptionally camouflaged. Estuarine stonefish like this one (Synanceia horrida), are indeed the world’s most venomous fish and are found all around Queensland, Australia. They’re hard to spot in their typical sandy, muddy, lumpy habitats. This is what leads unassuming victims to step on them, only to be injected with their deadly venom.

This is exactly what happened to a 9-year-old Australian boy this past Christmas, reports Daily Mail Australia – who originally broke Thursday’s story.

While “frolicking” in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast’s shallow waters, the boy stepped on a stonefish. The deadly fish’s spines pieced his foot, and the youngster was “unable to walk for two days.”

“These are dirty mongrel fish that can take a fully grown man down in pain”

“If this happens, you must submerge the sting in hot water to draw the venom out immediately, as hot as you can stand it,” The Daily Mail cites via fellow Australian Kylie Stapleton. “You must also call the ambulance immediately. I’m well aware we must share our water with the creatures that inhabit the ocean, this is a post to warn parents.”

“These are dirty mongrel fish that can take a fully grown man down in pain. Just be cautious please,” Stapleton ends.

One well known fatality came circa 1915, in which Joseph Leathom Wassell stepped on a stonefish in Queensland, as well. The fish’s spine managed to go all the way through his boot and into his foot, cites The Argus. Wassell was dead just a few days later.

Moral of the story is, as always, so many animals can kill you in Australia. Always explore responsibly.