It’s not a stone; it is a live creature resembling a stone and can hurt beyond anybody’s expectations. As its name suggests, it’s a fish, a stonefish to be exact, which camouflages itself, resembling a greyish or brownish stone. People, while swimming in open seas, often mistake it to be just another pebble and step on it, more often than not, leading to life-threatening situations. What they don’t know is stepping on this fish, disguised as a stone, is dangerous business as because of the pressure applied by one’s foot causes it to release a poisonous substance from its gland. This toxin is very powerful and causes unbearable pain and paralysis which, if neglected, can lead to the death of the individual. So, when you go on your next adventurous swimming session, beware! Also go through the next sub-sections to know more about several inconceivable and matchless facts about stonefish.
Scientific Name: Synanceia
Species: Synanceia alula, Synanceia horrid, Synanceia nana, Synanceia platyrhyncha, and Synanceia verrucosa
Length: Up to 50 cm
Weight: nearly 5 pounds or 2400 grams
Diet: Carnivorous, primarily small fishes and shrimps
Life Span: 5 to 10 years
Nature: Venomous, dangerous and even fatal to humans
Habitat: Coral reef, near and about rocks, mud or sand in tidal inlets
Range: Coastal regions of Indo-Pacific oceans and northern Australian waters
Interesting And Amazing Facts About Stonefish
- Stonefish is the most venomous fish the world. It is also known as dornorn, rockfish, and reef stonefish.
- Though primarily a marine creature, some of the species of stonefish are also found dwelling in rivers as well.
- A stonefish, on average is around 30 to 40 cm long. Some stonefish are also known to grow to 50 cm, though the number of such cases is very low.
- A stonefish has two pelvic and three anal spines buried in its shell. The grey and brown coloured fishes have red, orange or yellow patches on their skin.
- Its name, ‘stonefish’, reflects its ability to camouflage itself with the help of its grey and mottled colour similar to a stone.
- Due to its camouflage properties, many a time swimmers, unable to differentiate between a stonefish and a stone, accidentally step on them, often leading to fatal situations.
- The only prevention that swimmers can take to avoid such poisonous encounters with stonefish is to wear thick-soled shoes and stepping very lightly in water.
- Its glands have neurotoxins at the base of its needle-like dorsal fin spines, 13 of them. The stonefish emits toxins when it feels threatened or is disturbed.
- The amount of injected poison, usually, is directly proportional to the pressure applied on it by an external object. It is an involuntary activity of the stonefish and serves as its defence mechanism.
- Depending on the depth of the penetration of its poisonous spines, the poison takes as less as 2 hours to kill a human being after driving him into severe pain, tissue death and paralysis.
- Once attacked by the stonefish, the individual is advised to seek a medical aid as soon as possible. Temporary relief from severe pain can be attained by immersing the stung area in hot water.
- Traditional approach of restricting the movement of injected toxin by tying a cloth or bandage is not recommended. The treatment involves intravenous narcotic analgesia, local anaesthetic infiltration and administration of stonefish antivenin.
- Once the venom is discharged by the glands it takes a few weeks to refill the glands back with the toxin.
- The venom of a stonefish is made of a mixture of proteins, like the haemolytic stonustoxin, the protinaceous verrucotoxin and the cardioactive cardioleputin.
- In order to reproduce, a stonefish lays as many as a million eggs. In the initial stage of pregnancy, the unfertilized eggs remain inside female stonefish’s body. It then releases these eggs on the sea floor, and the male stonefish fertilizes the eggs by releasing its sperm all over them.
- Once hatched, baby stonefish are released in water where many other fish prey on them. Out of this huge number, only a few survive to maturity.
- Major preys of a stonefish are small fish and shrimps. When they come across, it slowly opens its mouth and swallows them immediately. It just takes about 0.015 seconds to perform the entire attack.
- Bottom-feeding sharks and rays are its predators against whose attacks a stonefish is susceptible. The string of 13 poisonous spines then helps it defend itself in such encounters.
- The conservation status of a stonefish is that of a ‘Non-threatened Creature’.
- Indo-pacific regions have around 20 subspecies of stonefish.
- A stonefish can live for nearly 24 hours outside water.
- A stonefish has a very low swimming speed.
- One weird fact about a stonefish is that it spits water.
- Stonefish is an attraction for aquarists. It is commercially sold on a large scale as an aquarium pet.
- Japanese are known to consume stonefish as a part of their expensive sashimi cuisine.