VERY PAINFUL: Clayton Blair was fishing with his friend Paul Evetts when a stonefish stung him on the thumb.
VERY PAINFUL: Clayton Blair was fishing with his friend Paul Evetts when a stonefish stung him on the thumb. Emma Murray

Stonefish sting: Marian man nets more than he bargained for

COMPARED to the pain of a stonefish sting, Clayton Blair said cutting off his hand might have been more pleasant.

Three days after Christmas, Marian resident Mr Blair was rushed to Mackay Base Hospital after being stung by the potentially fatal stonefish.

Mr Blair and his friend Paul Evetts were at the mouth of Murray Creek near Saint Helens, just enjoying flicking out the net and catching prawns, on Friday, December 28.

While cleaning out the prawns, Mr Blair noticed what he believed was a small pile of mud at the bottom of the net.

Only after he grabbed the extremely venomous creature did Mr Blair realise what it was.

A sharp pain in his thumb alerted Mr Blair to his mistake. He had been pricked by one of the stonefish's 13 sharp dorsal fin spines, which released a dose of neurotoxic venom into his bloodstream.

"It didn't feel like much more than just a normal ordinary spike at the start, but it just starts to burn like it was on fire."

Mr Blair and Mr Evetts scrambled around their small boat to find the small stonefish and safely throw it out.

Mr Blair said Mr Evetts turned to him and asked what they were going to do.


DEADLY FIND: This stonefish has been reeled in at a popular fishing spot in Noosa.
Stonefish are the most venomous of all fishes, found in shallow coastal waters in the northern half of Australia.

For an instant, Mr Blair contemplated staying in the boat because the pair had travelled for nearly half an hour to get to the fishing spot.

"But then the pain sort of got too bad and I said, 'Nah, we better head in mate'."

Five minutes after the initial sting, the pain began to truly set in.

Mr Blair said the pain began to shoot up his arm and into his shoulder and he felt his thumb and index finger go numb.

"They give a pain level from one to 10 and I reckon it felt like about a 12. And it was a constant 12. Once it built to that ... it just stayed constantly burning"

Mr Blair spent an excruciating half-hour trip back to the ramp.

"It was a very slow trip back in. I reckon if I cut my hand off it would have felt better. That's how bad the pain was."

Steering the boat to safety, the pair called an ambulance that arrived minutes before they got to the ramp.

Paramedics rushed Mr Blair to the nearest house so they could access hot water to start treating the venom. The heat of the water is able to break down the proteins in the stonefish's poison.

Mr Blair said "all they can do for it is obviously pain relief and as hot water as you can handle".

"I found out now that (hot water) draws the toxins out of the wound. "

Mr Blair was taken to Mackay Base Hospital, where he received treatment for five hours.

His brush with this deadly sea creature could have been much worse.

According to the Queensland Museum, the venom can lead to immediate and excruciating pain that can last for days.

The venom's extreme symptoms include muscular paralysis, breathing difficulties, shock, heart failure and, in rare cases, it can kill.

Mr Blair is now warning fishers to be careful about what they drag in, as it may put them in hospital.

"Most stonefish get stood on by bare feet in the creeks or waterways, where this one was out of a cast net and in a boat and in the hand."

Anyone stung should seek immediate medical attention.

"Don't try and be brave," he said. "The pain is very much intense. It's one of the worst pains I've ever felt, so be ready for the burn."