Encountering weever fish at the beach

Lifeguards News Release

All RNLI lifeguards are trained to deal with weever fish stings – just another reason to visit a lifeguarded beach this summer.

RNLI/Derry Salter

Weever fish

Weever fish are small sand coloured fish who easily camouflage into the sand, they spend most of their time buried in the sand with their dorsal fin above ground. The dorsal fin contains three spines of venom, which protects the weever fish from any potential threats. Unfortunately for beaches across the UK and Ireland, this is often a foot of a beachgoer.

Being stung by a weever fish can be painful, but it is generally nothing to worry about as it does not cause any significant damage. The level of pain varies between people due to each individual’s pain tolerance and also due to the number of spines that punctured the skin.

The RNLI advise those stung by a weever fish to:

- Keep the injured area in warm water for as long as possible. RNLI lifeguards dealing with stings will keep them in warm water for around 10 minutes until the pain becomes bearable.

- Wash the area with warm soapy water. This keeps the area around the puncture free of dirt and helps prevent infections.

- Check and care for the wound. People may need to bandage the punctured area.

All RNLI lifeguards are trained to treat weever fish stings and deal with hundreds each year. If you find yourself stung by a weever fish at a lifeguarded beach, quickly alert a lifeguard and they will be on hand to apply medical attention. The charity’s lifeguards will continue to monitor you after carrying out the above steps to prevent any allergic reactions.

To avoid getting stung, the RNLI advise all beachgoers to wear wetsuit boots or swimming shoes when wading in the shallows. This movement disrupts the sand and scares nearby fish away.

There are greater risks than weever fish in the coastal environment, which is why the RNLI encourage all beachgoers to choose a lifeguarded beach. If you are planning on entering the water, please swim between the red and yellow flags so the patrolling lifeguards can quickly locate you if you require assistance.

If you find yourself or anyone else in trouble in and around the water when visiting a lifeguarded beach, please dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

For more information on how to stay safe this summer, please visit: RNLI Beach Safety – Top Five Tips To Stay Safe By The Sea

Notes to editors

For more information on the type of sea creatures you may encounter at the beach, please visit: https://rnli.org/magazine/magazine-featured-list/2021/august/sea-creatures

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact Derry Salter, RNLI Media Engagement Placement on: 07890 402106 or email: [email protected]

Or, the RNLI Press Office available 24/7 on: 01202 336789 or email: [email protected]

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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