Poisonous fish are also becoming increasingly common in the Mediterranean. Only recently, for example, pufferfish that have a very strong poison were caught off the Croatian island of Ceja. But they are not the only poisonous fish.

The hare’s-head pufferfish or Lagocephalus sceleratus is actually widespread in the tropical Indo-West Pacific, but is also becoming more and more of a problem in the Mediterranean. A specimen was first spotted off the Aegean coast of Türkiye in 2003. It probably reached the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. Climate change and the warming of the Adriatic are encouraging the spread of the poisonous sea creature.

The puffer fish doesn’t seem dangerous at all, in fact it looks quite cute. However, tetrodoxin, which is mainly found in the gonads of fish, can even be fatal to humans. Even a dose of one to two milligrams is life-threatening. Therefore, the puffer fish should not be touched and under no circumstances should it be consumed.

In many parts of Asia it is considered a delicacy and is even specially fed to alleviate the poison. Nevertheless, around 75 people die every year from improper preparation. Symptoms of poisoning include headaches, weakness, coordination and speech problems and drowsiness.

The poisonous lionfish (Pterois volitans) has already spread successfully in the Mediterranean. The invasive species apparently also reached the Adriatic via the Suez Canal and was able to establish itself there due to the constant warming of the water.

The radiating dorsal fin of the lionfish contains a powerful poison. The poison is contained in a skin secretion in the spines, as the fish has no poison glands. If you come into contact with the toxin, it causes local pain. Swelling, necrosis and tingling can also occur. In addition, other symptoms include blisters, anxiety, nausea, sweating, vomiting, shortness of breath, impaired consciousness and high blood pressure.

There is an increased risk of infection, especially if the stinger is still in the wound. The affected limb should be immersed in 45 degree water for about half an hour. Although deaths from lionfish are very rare, a doctor should be consulted as a precaution to check and combat pain.                                                  

The true stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa) is an artist of camouflage. This makes it even more dangerous as it is easy to mistake it for a stone and step on it. There is a poison gland on the spines of its dorsal fin. Since its spines are also strong and sharp, they can even break through the soles of shoes. The poison consists of stonus toxin, verrucotoxin and cardioleputin.

Symptoms of a sting include, but are not limited to, severe pain, paralysis, necrosis, shock, cardiac arrhythmias, and respiratory failure. The neurotoxin can be fatal to people, especially children and the elderly, as well as those with weakened immune systems. If a sting occurs, the area should be treated immediately with warm water to denature the proteins in the venom. Emergency medical treatment is also required as quickly as possible, during which an antidote is administered. 

The weevers, Latin Trachinidae, have poison glands on the dorsal fin and the gill cover. Since they like to hang out on the sand near the beach, they pose a potential danger to bathers. In the video above you can see what it looks like and how to recognize it. The fish are among the most dangerous European poisonous animals. The poison contains serotonin and proteins that trigger histamine release.

Symptoms include painful swelling and redness. The tissue dies at the puncture site, which is why the wound scabs over. In general, a weever sting is not fatal. However, some people may have an allergic reaction to the toxin, causing dizziness, headaches, loss of consciousness or, in the worst case scenario, cardiac arrest. If you suspect an allergic reaction, you should seek medical help as quickly as possible. Weevers can be found in the Mediterranean as well as on the North and Baltic Seas.