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Venemous Eel Tail Catfish

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I live on Siquijor island, and about 6 weeks ago, I was walking on the beach when I noticed a dead fish that was partially covered in sand.  When I used my toe to brush some of the sand away, I was stung.  The pain was excruciating, the worst I have ever encountered in my life.  It was extremely intense and did not let up for hours.  In addition, there was localized swelling in the area of my foot where the barb entered.  When I returned to my cottage, I did an internet search about what to do in such a situation even though I was unable to identify the fish, since I was rushing back to my cottage and didn’t try to take the fish back with me.  I read that immersing my foot in very hot water helps to ease the pain, so, I spent the next 9 hours sitting in my kitchen with my foot in a bucket of hot water doing an internet search.  Residual pain has lasted over a month, and the spot where the venomous barb stuck in my toe is tender even today and painful if I concentrate the load on that spot while walking barefoot.

This is a photo of the fish that stung me.  It is called an Eel Tail Catfish which is very common here in the Philippines.  I finally was able to identify it only today because I came across some more dead ones on the beach and took them back to my cottage.  Apparently a fisherman caught them in his net and discarded them on the beach.  It would have been easy to step on these since they were small and scattered and not immediately visible.  It is seriously venomous, extremely painful and even known to kill divers who have the misfortune to run into a school of them.  They don't actually attack as the venom is used as a defensive measure only.  

Nevertheless, it is good to know in order to avoid them if you can.  They can grow to 12" adult length, but the only ones I have seen here are juveniles between 3” to 6".  They have distinctive stripes along the body but the stripes are hard to see when they are dead and lying on the beach.  You can see from my photos the venomous barbs and the stripes.  I walk this beach every morning with my dogs, and it is a wonder that the dogs were not with me today because they will eat any dead fish they find, which, in this case, would have been fatal, and a terribly painful death.  

The two fish that I photographed this morning were about 3” long, and you can see the distinctive venomous barbs sticking up from the pectoral and dorsal fins.  They are serrated so they are difficult to remove if broken off and remain in the puncture wound, as what happened in my case.







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