Image: Reef Stonefish spines
The first three dorsal fin spines of a Reef Stonefish found washed up on Safety Beach, Woolgoolga, northern New South Wales, by Nicola Fraser on 29 January 2013. This fish is the most southerly stonefish record in the fish collection (registration number: I.46163-001). The front of the fish is to the right of the image. The first spine is being pulled forward by forceps. The sheath of skin surrounding the spine has been lowered to reveal some of the spine; the second and third spines are still mostly covered.
- Mark McGrouther
- © Australian Museum
The Reef Stonefish is the most venomous fish in the world. It has thirteen stout spines in the dorsal fin which can inject a highly toxic venom. The venom causes intense pain and is believed to have killed many Pacific and Indian Ocean islanders. No deaths have been recorded in Australia since European arrival. An antivenom developed in 1959 further reduces the likelihood of death. Despite this, many people suffer the agony of a sting every year. Very hot water (not scalding) can be used to relieve the pain, but medical treatment should be sought.