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A deadly fish that has 13 spines packed with venom has been caught off the coast of Britain for the first time – and at a beach popular with tourists.
The exotic lionfish, which can kill with its sting, was caught by an angler in Dorset, according to The Sun.
Arfon Summers, 39, said his exotic six-inch find “blew his mind”. But experts have warned of the dangers of lionfish, which are normally found in the South Pacific and Indian oceans and can grow to up to 2ft.
Even if they don’t kill you, their stings can paralyse and cause extreme pain and vomiting. Hospitalisation is likely to be required if you become a victim.
As nocturnal predators, they lie motionless and wait to ambush their prey, and they can gang up together.
Arfon said: “My mind was blown. A lionfish is a new offshore personal best. It’s no doubt the ocean is getting warmer to house these. I didn’t let it go due to it being an invasive species.”
Marine scientists aren’t sure where this particular lionfish originated from. They are known to have spread to the Med, where they have been wiping out native species, and it’s possible that Arfon’s catch had travelled from as far away as Italy.
“These predators can give a nasty sting and can kill,” said lionfish expert Jason Hall-Spencer, of Plymouth University.
“It’s easy to get stung if you’re swimming or snorkelling.
“If approached they stick out their spines like a porcupine and if they are in a group they will gang up together.
“The water is warm enough, so a lionfish could have swum over here from the western Mediterranean. If it has, it means there will likely be more and it could have huge consequences for our native species.”
Arfon said he had been trying to lure a triggerfish, which is another fish usually found in warmer waters, when he made his surprising catch.
According to The Sun, his dad Bill, 75, was equally proud and relieved. “I’m just glad the thing didn’t sting him. It must make him a British record holder if no one else has caught one,” he said.
Nevin Hunter, marine co-ordinator at the Angling Trust, said: “A sting will easily put you in hospital and could kill. We have urged all fishermen to be vigilant.”
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