By Tony Winterburn •
Published: 28 Mar 2021 • 22:37
British Expat Finds Hundreds Of Lethal Pufferfish Washed Up On South African Beach. image: Instagram- Dr Tess Gridley
British Expat Finds Hundreds Of Lethal Pufferfish Washed Up On South African Beach.
A British ex-pat made an extraordinary discovery when she stumbled upon hundreds of pufferfish washed up on the sand while she was out taking a walk with her family.
The mini sea-monsters were soon identified by the South African government as the “Evileye” pufferfish, which is just as lethal as its name suggests. In fact, the spines of this unassuming little fish can deliver a poison that is deadlier than cyanide.
Dr Tess Gridley, from Sheffield, made the unsettling discovery on Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. She said: “The beach is 200 metres from our house and we were on a family walk. I can’t say how many were there as I only looked in a small area – I was with my kids and dog, and prepping for field-work so it was a short visit. But if you did count it would have exceeded hundreds.”
The fishes contain a poison called tetrodotoxin, which works by paralysing the diaphragm causing respiratory failure, which can lead to suffocation and cardiac arrest. One of the most venomous animals in the world, the blue-ringed octopus, also uses this kind of venom.
Previous mass strandings have been caused by red tides – an algal bloom that changes the water’s colour, and which produces natural toxins. However, the ministry statement notes that ‘there are no reports of any adverse water conditions or red-tide toxins that may have caused this’.
It’s also possible that the fish were blown to shore after puffing themselves up, either during a mass courtship or as a response to big waves.
South Africa’s Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries said: “The fish mortalities in False Bay are exclusively of the evil-eye pufferfish with counts of 300 to 400 dead fish per km of shore.
“These dead fish all carry the deadly neurotoxin tetrodotoxin and should not be eaten; death comes usually by cardiac arrest. Beach dog walkers are strongly advised to keep their pets away from them. If one’s dog does eat whole or part of a pufferfish, immediately induce vomiting and rush your pet to the vet.”
A dog has sadly already been killed as a result of the pufferfish according to local NGO AfriOceans Conservation Alliance.
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