Question: Describe the envenoming devices and envenoming process for the stonefish (Synanceja horrida).
Answer: The cited reference notes: “…..the stonefish possesses 13 sharp venom spines along its dorsal fin. The additional anal and pelvic spines however are practically nonfunctional due to their location; they are not as sharp either and display a thicker sheath. The dorsal spines erect involuntarily when the surrounding water or sea bed is disturbed. They are covered by a warty sheath and the aperture is blocked by fibrous material. Two glands in the middle third of the shaft contain 5– 10 mg of venom per spine. Vertical pressure on the sharp spine pushes back the sheath, removes the blockage and squeezes out the venom from the glands. This destroys the glands and it takes several weeks to re-establish them. Unfortunately this vertical pressure is usually provided by humans stepping on them or handling fished or stranded animals, thus making the stonefish a source of danger and fear especially among divers, tourists, fishermen and others involved in the fishing trade, as the stonefish has recently become fashionable as a delicatessen. Since the spines are extremely sharp they can easily penetrate wellingtons or flippers. Protection against injuries is hence more difficult. Furthermore, the fish is able to survive for at least 24 h out of water if in moist surroundings, and even dead fish can cause serious injuries.” (Brenneke F et al. Stonefish envenomation-A lucky outcome. 2006 Travel Med and Inf Dis 4:281-285)