Marine Stings – Fish

Many fish have spines with attached venom glands. When trodden upon, the spines of the marine Stonefish and the freshwater Bullrout penetrate deeply and deposit venom causing excruciating pain. General cardiovascular toxic effects can occur but are rare. Handling these or similar fish is also potentially dangerous.

The barbed spines on the tails of stingrays can inflict a serious gash or penetrating stab wound. Organs and blood vessels may be damaged, with the possibility of fragments of spines remaining in the wound. Injuries from these animals usually occur when the victim stands on an unseen fish, pulls a captured fish into a boat or swims too closely over a fish on the sea floor.

Recognition (Fish Stings)

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Intense pain, leading to irrational behaviour.
  • Swelling and / or bleeding.
  • An open wound.
  • Possibility of a blue/grey discolouration to the affected area

Management (Fish stings)

  • D.R.S.A.B.C.D. and call an ambulance.
  • If the sting is to the chest or abdomen, assess the victim for signs of bleeding and treat.
  • If there is an embedded object, no not remove it as it may be plugging the wound and restricting bleeding. Pad around the object and apply pressure over the pads.
  • If the sting is to the victim’s hand or foot, place that limb into hot water (no hotter than the rescuer can comfortably tolerate)

NOTE: DO NOT use the Pressure Immobilisation Technique

For advice concerning any Marine Envenomation contact

Australian Venom Research Unit

1300 760 451


Poisons Information Centre

13 11 26