Saturday, 5 February 2011

A Story With A Sting

MV Saraburi, photo by Brendan Pollard
 Our favourite weekend anchorage is St John's island, a short 15 minute journey from One Degree 15 Marina in Singapore.  Most weekends you'll find MV Blue Steel, MV Saraburi and SV Crystal Blues anchored in this bay.

Late Saturday afternoon, two weeks ago, our friends Rod and Angie, (Blue Steel) and Al and Mel, (Saraburi) decided to go ashore in their tender, planning to swim and walk the beach at St Johns Island.

They had just got out of the tenders for a swim when Al unfortunately stepped on something in the shallows that sent an immediate searing pain from his second smallest toe up his leg.  He hobbled to the beach, expecting to see a major laceration to his foot.  Mel and Angie could only find the tiniest puncture wound in his toe.

Al's swollen leg, 3 days later
Because of the intense pain they immediately sped back to the marina and soaked Al's foot in hot water whilst preparing for the drive to A&E at Raffles Hospital.  Al tells us that by now the pain was excruciating and all he could do was hold his leg up on the dashboard, squeezing his leg to halt the advancing pain.

Stonefish Envonomation

Very quickly he was admitted and the doctors diagnosed Stonefish envomation.   After 3 pethidine injections the pain started to subside - all the while he was soaking his foot in hot water to break down the protein in the venom.  Al's foot was x-rayed and then he went under a general anaesthetic as the doctor wanted to lance the puncture site and thoroughly clean out the wound.  Laden with antibiotics, antihistamines, pain killers, a very swollen leg and a hefty bill, he was discharged the following morning.

Mean Looking and Dangerous Too !

Google Images / Peter Verhas
The Stonefish is from the family Scorpaenidae, which includes a large variety of fish characterized by the ability to envenomate with various types of specialized spines.  LionFish, Zebrafish, Butterfly Cod, Scorpionfish are also in this family. Stonefish are well camouflaged bottom dwellers and like to live near rock, seaweed and coral.

A quick search on the Web revealed a recent study conducted by Singapore General Hospital on Stonefish stings in Singapore.  Its a common problem here it seems.   For a detailed treatment regime for either a Stonefish or LionFish envonomation see the link here.

Two weeks later Al is still in pain, and his leg is still puffy from a single puncture wound.  We'll all be more careful on the beaches around Singapore from now on.