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  1. #1
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    Practical Fishkeeping

    19 terrifying incidents involving fish
    26 dead, 297 injured and two left traumatised.



    Willy fish or Candiru might swim up your penis or vagina if you urinate in the Amazon.
    Picture by Takedashingen620 (Creative Commons)

    practicalfishkeeping.co.uk

  2. #2
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    you sure do find em mid

  3. #3
    bkkandrew
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    ^I hope he didn't find one, er, well, literally!

  4. #4
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    Attack of the 'willy fish'

    The legendary candiru, or 'willy fish' as it sometimes less politely called, is known about well outside its native range in the freshwater rivers of the Amazon basin. These small catfish are parasites and normally live in the gills of very large catfishes, to which they're attracted by the ammonia that is excreted by the fishes' gills.

    Unfortunately for bathers, gills aren't the only things that can excrete streams of ammonia into water. Humans urinating while swimming also do the same. The tiny catfish home-in on the trickle of ammonia-rich wee and swim up the victim's penis or vagina, locking themselves in place with a set of sharp hooks. Once there, they leave you in immense pain and try to dine on your blood.

    Although infamous, "attacks" by these fish are actually not thought to be particularly common. We covered the first confirmed and documented case of the removal of one of these catfishes from a man's penis. There's also a video, and a dramatic reconstruction of the event, if you're not too squeamish.

    While candiru are normally small fish an inch or two at most - the catfish removed in this case wasn't a little one. It measured an eye-watering six inches in length and half an inch wide! Given the choice, I think I'd personally prefer to be stung by something instead...
    More: Candiru attack


    Flying fish jumps into man's eye

    While numerous boaters have been injured by Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and sturgeons leaping out of the water, most are lucky enough to come away with just cuts and bruises. However, one patient admitted to a hospital in Guadeloupe was rather unluckier.

    He was quietly enjoying the Caribbean sun when a needlefish leapt out of the sea and impaled his eye socket. The fish tried to flap free, causing serious damage to the man's optic nerve. It eventually snapped off its beak, leaving it stuck inside the man's eye socket.

    Perhaps most amazingly, the man waited five days before popping in to casualty to have the lump of bone removed from his mangled eye socket. Consequently, even after the remove of the bone fragments and a course of antibiotics he lost the sight in the affected eye...

    More: Flying fish jumps into man's eye


    Steve Irwin killed by stingray

    Although they're potentially dangerous, deaths by stingrays are actually relatively uncommon, so the news that television reptile expert Steve Irwin had been killed by a Bull ray while filming off Queensland was all the more shocking.

    Irwin was believed to have been snorkelling over some large rays when one of them whipped up its tail and its large, barbed venomous sting struck him in the chest pretty much the worst possible place there is to get stung by a ray. Given the wound Irwin suffered when he was struck in the chest, there was probably little that could be done to save him.

    However, research undertaken by scientists from the University of California, who examined clinical records on 119 people who had been stung by stingrays, suffering acute but non-lethal pain in the process, showed that most had pain relief within half an hour by submerging the wound in hot water.

    Stingrays are found over a very wide area and a number of commonly kept in aquariums, especially the freshwater species from South America. Research has shown that it's actually these species that give the most painful stings, with even a small nick from the stinger enough to result in an exceptionally painful wound. Fortunately, stings from freshwater rays in the aquarium are extremely unusual because fishkeepers tend to treat them very cautiously.

    More: Steve Irwin killed by stingray


    Sarpa salpa: Picture kindly supplied by David Koutsogiannopoulos
    Men hallucinate after eating fish

    Two men got more than they bargained for when they dined on a popular local seafish in Mediterranean restaurants in 2006. The men suffered from "terrifying" visual and auditory hallucinations - seeing and hearing things that weren't really there - after eating the Salema porgy, Sarpa salpa.

    The fish had been eating algae containing an indole toxin with similar effects to the recreational drugs LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and DMT (dimethyltryptamine) which left the men suffering from a rare case of Hallucinogenic Fish Poisoning or ichthyallyeinotoxism.

    Apparently, Sarpa salpa is known to be affected by this algae and was once known as the Dream fish and was even used as a recreational drug in Roman times. The men "tripped" for 36 hours after eating the fish, suffering from various hallucinations and nightmares in the days that followed...

    More: Men hallucinate after eating fish


    Picture: Chris73, Creative Commons Licence.
    'Salmon' kills 15 and hospitalises 115


    You've got to be a little bit mad to dine on a fish like fugu that can potentially kill you. However, even eating what you believe to be salmon can be potentially deadly.

    Fish suppliers in Thailand aren't legally allowed to sell puffer fish meat, as it was banned there in 2002, so some of them have been dyeing the toxic puffer fish meat and passing it off as salmon on fish markets and restaurants to unsuspecting punters.

    In the space of three years, 115 people were hospitalised after eating the puffer fish meat (which is known as fugu) and 15 were left dead. The meat contains a toxin called tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is produced by bacteria living within the fish. Miniscule quantities can be deadly and there's no antidote.

    However, an active part of TTX is also a pain killer some 3000 times stronger than morphine and this is being used to produce a new drug called Tetrodin to help addicts come off heroin.

    More: Puffer fish sold as salmon kills 15


    Diver impaled by four-foot needlefish

    In 2005, 19-year old Tonga Loumouli from Hawaii was impaled through the chest by a pointy-nosed fish while diving at night. The fish stuck its nose in his chest and then wriggle free, leaving a massive gash and one of its teeth behind.

    Loumouli's friend pulled him into a dinghy and then dragged him a mile before getting help from a police officer. He was taken to hospital with a serious liver injury. While in hospital, unable to speak and attached to a ventilator he scribbled a note to his mum and sister which read "I'm going to quit diving..."

    More: Teenager attacked by a fish


    Boy collapses after being stung by fish

    You're not even safe if you're in the UK. One youngster, 13 year old Aaron Maughan, who was paddling in the sea at Seaton Carew in the north east of England, collapsed after he stepped on a venomous Lesser weever fish, Echiichthys vipera. This small fish, which reaches up to 15cm/6" in length, tends to spend much of its time sitting buried in the sand with only its small poison-laden dorsal fin spines sticking out.

    Maughan said: "I'm a blackbelt in karate and have had a lot of fights, even a broken nose, but this was something else. It felt like I had stood on a nail or glass. I looked down and there were three spikes sticking out of my foot. I started to walk back to my gran up the beach, blood was dripping out, then I just collapsed."

    More: Boy collapses after being stung by fish


    Picture by Springcold (Creative Commons).
    Fishkeeper poisoned by dead fish

    The fish don't even have to be alive to cause problems. The curator of a public aquarium in the Netherlands got pricked by a dead porcupine puffer while conducting an autopsy on the fish and ended up getting poisoned.

    A number of pricks from the spines of the pufferfish allowed the fish's body fluids, which contain the potent neurotoxin tetrodotoxin, get into his system. He survived, but suffered from paresis (a loss of movement of the limbs), paresthesias (loss of sensation), as well as a headache, dizziness and numbness.

    More: Fishkeeper poisoned by dead fish


    Man attacked with stuffed fish

    Nor do the fish have to be freshly dead. An American woman used a stuffed swordfish to attack her boyfriend during an argument, leaving him with several cuts to his arms and shoulders. Ouch.

    More: Man attacked with stuffed fish


    Picture by Mike Rizzo.
    Piranha bites off side of man's finger

    Although widely believed to be one of the most dangerous fish, according to recent research piranhas aren't usually that dangerous, unless you catch them.

    However, fishkeeper Mike Rizzo of Michigan suffered a nasty wound when he was moving his pet sub-adult Diamond rhombeus piranha to a new aquarium. The piranha, which is called Markov, tried to jump out of the net on the way to the new tank so Rizzo put out his hand in an attempt to block it. Unfortunately, the startled fish chomped straight into his finger, ripping off the side.

    Rizzo told Practical Fishkeeping: "He got a hold of my finger damn well. He bit all the way down into my knuckle and broke the capsule my knuckle is in and chipped a piece of bone off it. The bite also went through the nerves and other stuff in my finger. At first it was extremely painful. I think that a lot of it was due to the initial shock as well as seeing the skin and flesh dangling off and seeing blood literally spurting out as my heat beat, and just forming a large pool on the floor."

    More: Piranha bites off side of man's finger


    Woman badly bitten by piranhas

    If you're leaving your piranhas in the care of your mum, you'd think it would be a good idea to let her know what she was dealing with. However, one mother wasn't quite so lucky and suffered a nasty wound after one of her son's "goldfish" latched on to her hand while she was cleaning out its aquarium. Doctors said she lost all of the skin from two of her fingers and was lucky not to have lost her hand in the incident.

    More: Woman badly bitten by piranhas


    Statistician stung by scorpion fish

    A British man who works for the Office for National Statistics was stung by a scorpion fish and nearly died while on holiday on the Greek Island of Rhodes. What are the chances of that happening?

    Rod Lawson from Cumbria picked the fish up and got speared in the finger, then got jabbed again as he was putting it back in the sea. Lawson said: "[My arm] was like an elephant's trunk - four times its original size from the fingers right up to the armpit. It looked absolutely terrifying. It was very, very scary because the pain was intense and within just a short space of time I was drifting in and out of consciousness. Apparently it was touch and go for quite some time."

    More: Statistician stung by scorpion fish


    Spotted eagle ray by Jean De Bosset (Creative Commons)
    Woman killed by leaping eagle ray

    Spotted eagle rays, Aetobatus narinari, which can reach several metres across, don't jump out of the sea that often, so Judy Kay Zagorksi of Michigan was exceptionally unfortunate to have been hit by a 1.5m wide specimen earlier this year.

    The massive ray leapt from the sea and collided with Zagorski while she was in a boat with her family off the Florida Keys. Although the species is potentially venomous, it's thought that the weight of the fish hitting Zagorski was the cause of death in this bizarre accident.

    More: Woman killed by leaping eagle ray


    600lb Marlin "attacks" angler

    An 18-year old angler on a game fishing trip off Panama was attacked by a massive 600lb Marlin after it jumped into the boat he was fishing from. Stephen Schultz was knocked to the floor and had blood pouring from his nose and mouth.

    He was flown to hospital were x-rays showed that his sinus walls had been broken in four places. He also suffered an inch and a half cut in the back of his throat and had numerous lacerations inside his cheeks after the Marlin's sword smacked him in the face. The Marlin was returned alive.

    More: Fish attacks man


    Blue Marlin, Makaira nigricans (Creative Commons).
    Man impaled by giant fish

    Ian Card was less lucky. He was fishing in an International big game fishing tournament off Bermuda when he hooked a 14' Blue marlin, Makaira nigricans. The fish, which weighed around 360kg/800lb leapt out of the water, impaled him through the chest with its 90cm/3' long sword and jumped into the sea with him still attached.

    The fish swam down deeper, but miraculously, Card managed to push himself off the sword and resurfaced 50m from the boat with blood pouring out of his chest. Amazingly, he survived.

    More: Man impaled by giant fish


    Girl critically ill after eel jumps into mouth

    A three-year old girl in Taiwan became critically ill after a bizarre incident involving some live eels. Her father caught a number of eels and took them home alive to cook them. While he was killing one of the eels it made a bid for freedom and jumped into the girl's mouth, where it became lodged in her oesophagus.

    Her father managed to pull the fish free, but ruptured her oesophagus in the process, resulting in surgery to fix the wounds, as well as a secondary infection.

    More: Girl critically ill after eel jumps into mouth


    Swimmer chokes to death on fish

    A teenager swimming in Lake Qaroun in Egypt choked to death after a fish swam into his mouth while he was swimming. Paramedics were unable to resuscitate the man, who died before he reached the hospital.

    More: Swimmer chokes to death on fish


    Puffer fish kills eight and hospitalises 170

    In a single week, eight people were killed by eating toxic puffer fish meat, while another 170 were hospitalised and survived. Cats, dogs and crows who ate the scraps also died.

    140 of the people went down with puffer fish poisoning after eating a fish ball soup at a funeral in Thailand. After the meal, the guests started to vomit and were complaining of numbness of the tongue and shortness of breath. A single puffer fish contains enough toxin to kill 30 people, and there's no antidote.

    More: Puffer fish kills eight and hospitalises 170

    And not a shark in sight...

  5. #5
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