The Reef Stonefish is considered to be the world’s most poisonous fish. Because it just wouldn’t be Australia if the fish couldn’t kill you as well. Despite the high neurotoxicity of the stonefish’s poison there have been no recorded deaths from a stonefish sting since European settlement and the likelihood has decreased since the development of anti-venom. However, the sting itself is extremely painful and a wound from a stonefish spine won’t heal for several months.
Unlike spider or snake bites, where the bite usually occurs as a result of disturbing the creature in or near its home, stonefish bites are most likely to occur by accident on the beach. The fish’s home-range is mainly the tropical coasts of the northern parts of Australia, although stonefish can be found as far south as Perth in the west and even in the Great Australian Bight. Most stings occur when a person steps onto a buried or partially buried stone fish that has washed up on the beach, driving the spines up into the foot, which is why it’s always a good idea to wear flip flops or “thongs” on the beach.