How to Counter the Sting of a Stargazer

28 November 2013
Comments: 1
28 November 2013, Comments: 1

Stargazer stings are one of the most venomous to humans all over the world. They have two large poisonous spines located behind their opercle and above their pectoral fins. Moreover, their modified eye musclesare electric organs that can cause 50 volt jolt of electric shocks. This may not be enough to kill their human victims, but it would suffice to paralyze their small prey. Most of their 50 species are located in tropical and temperate waters.

Although stargazer has a pleasant name, one should not be fooled. Although it is generally unappealing, it is unique. The name comes from the location of its eyes, which is at the top of their heads, denoting that it is merely staring at the night sky’s stars. Moreover, their upward-facing mouth is also located in their large heads that allows them to easily consume any prey that passes overhead. This structure allows them to breathe beneath the sand while waiting for food.Stargazer’s usual habit consists of burying themselves in sand and suddenly leaps forward to ambush their prey.

Symptoms of Stargazer Sting

It may sometimes be difficult to determine in a stargazer has stung its victim as it is typically hidden under the sand. Moreover, symptoms of stargazer stings may be similar to those of other fishes. However, it may have a slightly unique characteristic that may set it apart from other fish bites:

  • Puncture wounds, thus there is bleeding
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness and heat
  • Symptoms of shock
  • Unique characteristic: slight feeling of electrocution

Treatment of Stargazer Sting

Although it is not a very common marine injury, stargazer stings can lead to further complications and damages if not treat properly. To treat a stargazer sting:

  • Immerse the affected area in hot, non-scalding water for 30 to 90 minutes or until pain subsides.
  • If there is bleeding, encourage bleeding.
  • Once bleeding has stopped, thoroughly clean the wound with soap and water. Apply an topical antibiotic ointment to avoid infection.
  • Do not close the wound as this may promote infection.

Prevention of Stargazer Sting

As is with all cases, prevention is better than cure. Stargazer stings, although the marine animals may not be easily detected by the eyes, can still be prevented. Some of these tips include:

  • Handle with great amounts of care when removing from nets or hooks.

    Remove a stinger using a card

    Remove a stinger using a card

  • Do not attempt to handle marine life, especially those that are unfamiliar to a person.
  • Some cases of stargazer stings are due to accidental disruption during night diving thus take extra precaution at night when these animals cannot be seen.

Because stargazers are now present in the Canadian and American shores, first aid should be known in cases of emergency, especially if one decides to go to saltwater bodies of water. Disclaimer: There is no antivenin for stargazer stings, only tetanus shots, thus giving first aid immediately can help significantly in avoiding further complications. The given information should not be used as medical advice or substitute for first aid training. To learn how to treat bites and stings of a wide variety of animals, including stargazer stings, enroll in First Aid Courses and CPR training.

One response on “How to Counter the Sting of a Stargazer

  1. tbone says:

    I got stung on St. George Island, Florida. It was daytime and left two bruises but no pain other than the initial electrocution of my knee.

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