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31st May 2022

Sea swimmers warned about increase in weever fish stings

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Watch out.

Sea swimmers are being warned about weever fish stings as there is an increase in cases this year.

According to the director of the Tramore Surf Life Saving Club in Waterford, weever fish are a small fish that bury into the sand in low tides and in harboured areas and then “flick their dorsel fin” into the feet of anyone who accidentally steps on them.

Volunteer with Water Safety Ireland Lola O’Sullivan said that it is “excruciatingly painful” and can last up to two hours.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said that the best way to treat a sting like this is to put your foot into warm water and seek help in a local shop or restaurant if there is no lifeguard on duty.

This issue typically occurs in shallow waters and to avoid a sting, people are advised to swim at high tide or wear booties when going into the sea or ocean.

As there has been an increase in all year swimmers since the Covid pandemic, O’Sullivan also noted to be aware of jellyfish as there are smaller creatures appearing in the water within the last week, which is unusual for this time of year.

Typically, jellyfish season in Ireland is between July and September, but they have been known to appear earlier.

According to the HSE, there are five native jellyfish species in Ireland and they are not known to cause fatal injuries and only require basic first aid to treat.

The species to watch out for are Barrel, Blue, Common (Moon), Compass and Lion’s Mane, which gives the most severe sting.

If you get stung, get the attention of a lifeguard and rinse it with seawater rather than fresh water. Apply a cold press and use paracetamol or ibuprofen to take away the pain.

Avoid some misconceptions when it comes to treating these stings such as rubbing the area, urinating on it, using vinegar or alcohol or putting a tight bandage on it.