Although the stonefish is not found in Hawaiian waters, I thought it was necessary to include it because divers travel, and I want you to be prepared incase you ever encounter one of these nasty looking creatures while diving in the Indo-Pacific region where the stonefish calls home.
The stonefish is a master of disguise in both body shape, and coloration. It is very often mistaken for a common rock, which is why it is so dangerous.
Most stonefish stings occur when someone mistakingly steps on a stonefish in shallow water near the shore, where there oftentimes are a lot of other rocks. The stonefish is able to blend in with the other rocks and stay motionless, thereby virtually disappearing from view.
If a person is stung, that person will experience intense throbbing, sharp pain. There may be severe bleeding and a whitened color of the area around the site of the sting and the color of the area changes as the amount of oxygen supplying the area decreases. The victim may experience intense abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, delirium, fainting, fever, headache, muscle twitching, seizures, paralysis. difficulty breathing, changes in blood pressure, heart failure, pulmonary edema, and loss of consciousness.
Immediate emergency medical treatment is advised as some people are more susceptible to the venom than others. The sting of the stonefish can be extremely deadly.
To treat a Stonefish sting follow these simple steps:
- Immediately wash the area with fresh water.
- Carefully remove any visible spines from the wound.
- Use direct pressure with gauze pads to control bleeding.
- Soak the affected area in warm water (110°F to 113°F) for 30 to 90 minutes to denature the toxins.
- Administration of analgesia (never use aspirin in conjunction with hot water treatments).
- Watch for signs of systemic symptoms and be ready to perform CPR if necessary or treatment for anaphylactic shock.
- Transport to the hospital for evaluation and wound debridement and care, and anti-venom administration where available.
Recovery usually takes about 24 – 48 hours but can take several months.