'Worse than child birth': Woman's horrific injury from sea creature

A Queensland woman has detailed the excruciating pain caused by one of the world’s “most venomous” fish.

Whitney Jones was getting out of the water at the Mooloolaba Spit when something stung her foot and when she looked down she saw a stonefish, she told ABC Sunshine Coast.

Ms Jones said the pain set in when she was walking up the beach. She soon collapsed due to the immense pain and two women tended to her until the lifeguards were on the scene.

“I've given birth completely naturally before, and I'd prefer to do that 10 times over,” she told the ABC.

The lifeguards treated the sting with hot water before an ambulance arrived. Ms Jones, who works as a nurse, said she used breathing techniques to calm herself down when she felt herself starting to shake.

Photos show her left leg dramatically swollen following the venomous sting.

Whitney Jones pictured with an enlarged foot from the venom.
Whitney Jones detailed her horrific encounter with a stonefish, considered to be among the most venomous fish. Source: ABC Sunshine Coast/Facebook

Stonefish can cause ‘intense’ pain, even death

Keven Renshaw was stung by a stonefish in Queensland a few years back.

“The pain was so intense I was shaking and trying to hold it together, thinking no way is this going to break me as I was in the fetal position on a bench,” he told Yahoo News Australia back in 2018.

“The only way I could describe it was like someone constantly hammering your foot with a hammer then going over the top of it with a nail file.”

According to the Queensland Museum: “Stonefish are the most venomous of all fishes.”

Stonefish are found throughout the northern half of Australia in shallow coastal waters and they usually lurk motionlessly, partially buried in the substrate, among coral, rocky reef, rubble, or aquatic plants.

At the base of each of the dorsal fins on the stonefish are the venom glands.

“Stings usually occur to the feet of swimmers or waders who have ventured away from clean sandy substrate and closer to the more complex bottom structure preferred by the stonefish,” Queensland Museum warns.

“Multiple spines can often penetrate affected limbs, resulting in more extensive envenomation. The pain is immediate, excruciating and may last for many days.

“Muscular paralysis, breathing difficulties, shock, and sometimes heart failure and death can ensue.”

The stonefish, found on the north coast of Australia is world's most venomous fish. Source:  Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
The stonefish, found on the north coast of Australia is world's most venomous fish. Source: Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Despite being so venomous, there have been no recorded stonefish-related deaths in Australia since European arrival.

The Queensland Museum advises leaving the water and seeking medical attention promptly if stung by a stonefish.

“Add this to the list of reasons I will not enter the ocean,” someone commented on ABC Sunshine Coast’s Facebook post.

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