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Penetrating marine envenomation

The major causes of penetrating marine envenoming or injuries are:
1. Venomous fish: stone fish, catfish, scorpion fish, weever fish
2. Sting rays
3. Echinoderms: sea urchins

There are a huge variety of different venomous fish and stingrays throughout the world which are summarised in tables 1 to 3.

Table 1. List of important groups of venomous fish that have been implicated in envenomation.

Group Distribution Examples
Stonefish (Synanceia spp.)Tropical and warm temperate oceans, including central Pacific, Indo-Pacific and east to the African coastAustralian estuarine stonefish (S. trachynis), the Indian stonefish (S. horrida) and the reef stonefish (S. verrucosa)
Scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae)Worldwide mainly in tropical and temperate oceansLionfish (Pterois volitans), soldierfish or cobbler (Gymnapistes marmoratus), sculpin (Scorpaena guttata), red rock cod(S. ergastulorum), bullrout (Notesthes robusta), Fortesque (Centropogon australis)
Weever fish (Trachinidae)Mediterranean, European coastal areas, Black Sea, Pacific Ocean of the coast of ChileGreater weever fish (Trachinus draco) and the lesser weever fish (Echiichtis vipera)
Scats (Scatophagidae)Indo-Pacific OceanSilver scat, striped butterfish or spadefish (Selenotoca multifasciata)
Rabbitfish or happy moments (Siganidae)Tropical Indo-Pacific regionSiganus spp.
EnoplosidaeAustralia (temperate waters)Old wife (Enoplosus armatus)

Table 2. List of the families of catfish that have been implicated in envenomation.

Family Distribution Examples
AriidaeWorldwideArius spp.
BagridaeAsia, Africa, JapanPseudobagrus, Liobagrus reini
ClariidaeIndo-Pacific and IndiaClarias batrachus
DoradidaeFresh waters of South AmericaPterodoras granulosus, Centrochir crocodili
HeteropheustidaeIndiaHeteropneustes fossilis
IctaluridaeAmerica,Ictalurus and Noturus
PimelodidaeSouth America to MexicoPimelodus clarias
PlotosidaeIndo-Pacific region including AustraliaPlotosus lineatus, Cnidoglanis megastoma, Tandanus bostocki
SiluridaeAfrica and Asia

Table 3. Important families of stingrays and their distributions

Family Common Name Examples Distribution
UrolophidaeRound stingrays or stingareesUrolophus Worldwide
DasyatidaeStingrays or whip raysDasyatis, Taeniura, Urogymnus Worldwide
PotamotrygonidaeRiver raysPotamotrygon South America
GymnuridaeButterfly raysGymnura America
MyliobatidaeBat or devil raysAetobatus narinari, Myliobati Worldwide
RhinopteridaeCow-nosed raysRhinoptera Europe and America


The treatment of marine injuries is similar with minor modifications depending on the size of the wound and the presence of broken off spines.

First aid

  • Wound site: wash with water
  • Bleeding: local pressure
  • Pain: immerse in hot water (45ºC) for a maximum duration of 90 minutes

Hospital treatment

  • local irrigation of the wound and removal of foreign material/spines
  • radiography or ultrasound to identify retained spines or foreign bodies
  • oral or titrated parenteral analgesia and/or local or regional anaesthesia; the latter may assist with exploration of the wound
  • stonefish antivenom is available for stonefish stings with severe pain or systemic effects
  • surgical consultation is required for deep injuries, involvement of joints or bones or retained foreign material
  • thoracic or abdominal stingray injuries should be treated as major trauma with appropriate resuscitation and surgical intervention
  • prophylactic antibiotics should be considered for large wounds with foreign material or delayed presentation
  • all penetrating marine injuries must be reviewed every 24 to 48 hours for the first week

wikitox/penetrating_marine_envenoming.txt · Last modified: 2018/09/01 09:01 by

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