PEOPLE hitting Cork beaches in the coming days as the sun splits the stones have been warned to be careful as strands around the coastline are inundated with weever fish, a tiny fish which packs a very nasty sting.
The small, sand-coloured fish bury themselves in the sand - and if you stand on them, their dorsal fin embeds into your foot and injects venom which causes the excruciating pain often experienced.
Lifeguards who man beaches around the coast have to deal with numerous stings from the tiny creature.
“Weever fish stings can be really painful but they affect everyone differently. I’ve seen grown men cry from the pain and then a small child not be affected by it at all,” said one lifeguard.
“The severity of a weever fish sting really depends on how you stand on it.
“If you stand directly on to the spinal fin, it causes the most pain.
“You can avoid the fish either by wearing wetsuit or swimming shoes to protect your foot or by dragging your feet along the sand as you walk. This movement disrupts the sand and scares any nearby fish away.
“Lifeguards treat weever fish stings by soaking the affected area into hot water.
This breaks up the venom and usually after around ten minutes, the pain will ease.”
Little is known about the weever fish but studies are ongoing about the creature by experts in the south west of England where the weever fish is also prevalent.
Marine biologists and coastal scientists from the University of Plymouth are joining forces to find out why weever fish tend to inhabit certain areas, what they do there and what factors make a sting more likely.
They also hope that by establishing their habitat needs, natural influences and human impacts on weever fish populations can be anticipated.
““These notorious little fish can’t be blamed for defending themselves, but we do hope that our research will help reduce the risks of getting stung,” said Dr. Benjamin Ciotti, a marine biology lecturer.