Stung by a Rockfish

Discussion in 'Marine Life and Ecosystems' started by Bagheera, Aug 15, 2003.

  1. Bagheera

    Bagheera Guest

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    I was snorkeling in La Jolla Cove (in San Diego, CA) yesterday, feeding the local fish some frozen peas. Some of them were getting a little too frisky, nipping at the hand that held my bag of peas. I waved my hand through the middle of a group of Geribaldi (sp), and they all scattered. That worked well, so I tried the same thing when a brown rockfish parked himself a few inches from my mask.

    Ouch! Bad idea! The little bugger didn't even move. He just flicked up his dorsal spines and stood his ground. My (gloveless) hand smacked right into it. It felt like jamming my hand onto a row of needles. Thankfully, it didn't draw blood, but it hurt nonetheless.

    Do brown rockfish have venom in their spines, and if so, how serious is it?
     
  2. Sebastian

    Sebastian Barracuda

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    ok i found this

    http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/WWW/macsis/lists/M010172.htm

    Quote:

    Rockfishes off California are difficult to identify because about 60 similar species occur there. The characters given here should be used with caution.
    Many, if not all species of Sebastes are venomous. Poison glands are associated with some or all of the spines of the first dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins. The brown rockfish is one of the few species in which poison glands are associated with all fin spines. The venom, although painful, is not dangerous except when it provokes an allergic reaction or where the injury becomes infected *208*.
    The brown rockfish is distinguished from all other Sebastes occurring off California in having a flat interorbital space, coronal spines in most individuals (although not present in individuals from Puget Sound, Washington), light brown body with darker brown mottling, pinkish caudal, pelvic, and pectoral fin membranes, and a prominent dark brown blotch on the gill cover. Dorsal fin XIII, 12-15; anal fin III, 5-8; pectoral fin 15-19; gill raker teeth on first arch 25-30; lateral line pores 42-49 *208*.


    Hope this helps! Maybe you should see a doctor just to make sure
     
  3. JustAddWater

    JustAddWater Manta Ray

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    The California and Rainbow Scorpionfish have venomous dorsal spines, as do a few other rockfish, but to a lesser degree. I've heard that Cabezon are also poisonous, but don't know if that is if you only eat their eggs, or if they too have a venomous dorsal spine.
     
  4. Finnatic

    Finnatic Nassau Grouper

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    How did your injury turn out? Did you have to see a doc?
     
  5. Bagheera

    Bagheera Guest

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    Luckily, the fish's spines didn't break the skin. So, no, I didn't have to see a doctor. Two days after the incident, I'm fine. I didn't get injured, but I got a warning: Other fish (in La Jolla Cove) will flutter away if you just wave your hand near them, but a brown rockfish will stand its ground.
     
  6. MantaRey

    MantaRey Divemaster

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    don't some species of scorpionfish have fatal poison?
     
  7. NetDoc

    NetDoc Chairman of the Board

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    that I am aware of are due to anaphlyactic shock. This was four years or so ago off of Boyton. I used to think that bristle works were fatally poisonous as well, as all three people that I knew who have been hit suffered near death experiences. I later found out that anaphylactic shock was the real culprit here too. I want to get certified to carry an epi pen for just that reason. BTW, the first aid for an injury from a scorpion fish is to immerse the wound in as hot of water as you can tolerate. The heat will cook and thus change the protein based toxin much as it would an egg white.
     
  8. norcaldiver

    norcaldiver Manta Ray

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    I am dumbfounded that someone would wait 24 hours then post on the internet asking about poison, rather than call an ER or Poison control Center, or better yet, look it up on their own on the internet....
     
  9. Bagheera

    Bagheera Guest

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    The fish's spines didn't break the skin, so I was rather certain that I hadn't actually been poisoned. The question, therefore, was simply academic. I wasn't asking "What happened when I was stung?" but rather "What would have happened if I had ben stung?"
     
  10. frontsight2001

    frontsight2001 Guest

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    May I speak from personal experience, from bad experiences comes good judgement ya know :)

    Most bottom rockfish in California are of the Scorpionfish family. Most of these fish have slightly venomous dorsal spines.

    While diving I was stuck in my right hand by a California Scorpionfish. These small 10-18" brownish bottom dwellers look much like a Cabezon. However their venom is very, and from ecperience, I repeat very painful.

    Within a matter of moments a sharp burning pain, scale 9 of 10, which began proceeding up my arm. Truthfully, I feel that if that venom reached my heart I would have suffered a heart attack.

    Fortunately, as mentioned in am earlier post, the venom is heat sensitive. The dive crew mixed cool and hot water from the coffee maker and plunged my hand into the cup. Within minuites I was soaking my hand in straight hot water, yikes! But the relief from the poison was more than the pain from the heat.

    Super hot soaking continued for the rest of the day. My hand suelled twice its normal size and became rock hard. I had "scorpion claw hand" and was now a welcomed member of that club which included most of the crew!

    Ask southern Califonia fishermen and deckhands about scorpion claw hand, most have had one and don't want another.
     
  11. nwscubamom

    nwscubamom Nassau Grouper

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    I teach Pacific NW Fish ID to divers, and one of the questions they always have is HOW BAD DO ROCKFISH STING?

    Not having personal experience in that area, and appreciating every mm of neoprene I wear on my hands, I really like hearing about others' experiences on the topic. Thanks guys!!

    I also stumbled across this fisherman's experience with a Black Rockfish. Sounds like he's been nailed a few other times as well.

    http://www.bcadventure.com/adventure/angling/protalk/thornton/saltwaterff10.phtml

    I am under the understanding that Cabezon are not poisonous - just their eggs. (nice purply masses that they'll guard fiercely! I've been rammed several times by these hefty bottomfish)
     
  12. Gymnothorax

    Gymnothorax Guest

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    Actually Rockfish, Scorpionfish, and Lionfish are closely related their venom is not seriously dangerous to most peoplej. The people that should worry are people who are allergic to bee stings. Although if you ever get stung again, run hot water over the area that got stung (as hot as you can stand it) for 5 to 10 minutes, this breaks down the venom and will relieve your pain.
     
  13. seakdivers

    seakdivers Surface Interval Member

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    Rockfish sure do sting, although sometimes it's not that bad. While we are trolling for Salmon up here (Alaska), we catch many different species of rockfish, and often you will get stung while the fish is flip-flopping around during the "hook extraction" phase. I've had mild ooey-gooey wounds on my hands, and other times it's not much to speak of. My uncle, however, is a commercial fisherman, and a few years back he got spined big time - 3 spines broke off in the back of his hand. It was NASTY - they had to cut necrotic portions out, sew him up, and he was bandaged & swollen for quite some time.
    Of course if he would have come off the fishing grounds a few days earlier to seek medical attention, it would not have been so bad, but he is one of those bullheaded "time is money" fishermen who are so focused on their livelihood....darn him! :eek:ut:
     
  14. grouper4246

    grouper4246 Guest

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    I was stung just over 2 wks ago in the Sea of Cortez. Never had anything hurt so bad in my life. After a 2-hr boat ride back to dock, I did soak my hand in HOT water for the next 4 hrs. It took out the throbbing, but the swelling and the pain were and ARE still there. Swelling gone down some, but still very painful--can't bend middle finger all the way yet. Yikes! how long does this last? Saw improvement for the first 8-10 days, but now the swelling & pain are just pretty constant. Tried to see a Dr in Mexico, but the clinic was crowded & time didn't permit. Is it too late for any treatment? I'm thinking it will eventually go away, but sure is uncomfortable now!
     
  15. nwscubamom

    nwscubamom Nassau Grouper

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    Grouper,

    There's a good chance after this much time has elapsed that you've got an infection of some sort, which needs to be treated with antibiotics. So this armchair dr. thinks you should get that hand seen by a REAL Doc, pronto!!

    :wacko:
     
  16. Eli

    Eli Nassau Grouper

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    Location: Exit 131, NJ
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    I agree fully with Scubamom, after two weeks you have an infected hand. Dont wait for it to heal on its own! The problem is that the infection can cause all kinds of problems from septic arthritis in the joint, to a fatal blood infection, to bacterial infections of the heart valves (endocarditis). The responsible bug is usually not a marine bacterium but staph aureus, the bug which causes most wound infections, and the complications mentioned above. Get yourself seen by a clinic ASAP, get the wound cultured, get put on antibiotics.

    I recently had a puncture wound by a nonvenomous fish spine (while fishing) and ended up with a staph infection in my finger, so I have had a similar experience. A few days of antibiotics, and all was fine.
     

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