Definitions

lesser-weever

Lesser weever

The lesser weever, Echiichthys vipera, is a hazardous weever-fish of the family Trachinidae, in the order Perciformes, and the class Actinopterygii. It is generally found on the sandy seabeds of the open sea, near the shore. Lesser weevers are sometimes disturbed by swimmers, and may sting them badly. Weevers also sting fishermen when they clean their fishing nets.

The lesser weever is approximately 15 cm long, with an elongated body. Its color can be described as greyish-brown on the back and silvery-white on the sides. It has no spines in front of the eyes.

Habitat

Lesser weevers are found in marine and demersal areas. The fish live in a subtropical climate. The coordinates of location are 59°N - 20°N, 19°W - 36°E Owing to its location, it is the object of some minor commerce and serves as a game fish. It occurs in the eastern Atlantic from the North Sea to Morocco and Madeira, and in the Mediterranean.

Biology

The lesser weever is littoral and benthic, living on sandy, muddy bottoms, ranging from a few meters deep to 150 m (in winter). Resting on the bottom, its position can be described as with eyes buried and the tip of the first dorsal fin exposed. Because of its poison and its occurrence near beaches, it is considered to be one of Europe's most dangerous weever species. There are venom glands located on its first dorsal fin, which is completely black, and on the gill cover. This species has the most potent toxin of all the weevers.

Effect on humans

The sting of a weever is acute and intense. The pain frequently is radiated to the area around the limb. The seriousness of the pain reaches its peak thirty minutes after the sting, and then slowly decreases. However, some pain (or other sensation, such as a tingle) may continue to affected the area for up to twenty-four hours. Very rarely, pain can be propagated to the tributary lymph nodes, i.e. those in the groin (when the sting is on the sole of the foot), or those in the armpit if the sting is on the hands).

The best first aid is to reassure the patient of the relative harmlessness of the sting, to wash the wound, and then to immerse it in hot water for at least an hour, in order to ease the pain and help break down the toxin.

References

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