Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zebrafish

Well, we've made it to the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Woohoo! I'm so happy to have met everyone and gained all my new followers. I hope to see everyone in the upcoming months. Keep writing! 

How do you plan to celebrate the completion of the challenge?

Today's poison is in the form of a fish. Usually found near coral reefs, so keep an eye out when snorkeling! My information came from Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers. The book provides scientific information, so I won’t attempt to paraphrase, but give you direct quotes.

Disclaimer: Do not attempt the method discussed. The information provided is meant for fiction writing only. Please keep it on the page.

Zebrafish or Scorpionfish (p. 143-144):

Scientific Name:  Scorpaena guttata, pterois volitans (lionfish), Synanceja horrida (devilfish)

Other: Stonefish, butterfly cod, turkeyfish, firefish, rockfish.

Toxicity (scale of 1-6; 1=almost non-toxic, 6=super toxic): 5

Form: The zebrafish is a beautiful variety with vivid colors and elegant fins like wings of a butterfly. 

            The scorpionfish is about four to eight inches long with a large head, big mouth, and bright bands in reddish brown and white. Reef-dwellers, they are often found upside down in coral caves and other shelters. When annoyed, the fish tend to stand their ground and may actually approach the intruder, dorsal spines erect. All spines contain venom. The scratch is extremely painful and can cause a swimmer to be incapacitated. There are eighty different varieties of scorpionfish.

            The stonefish looks like an irregular lump of flesh. It has a large, upturned mouth to suck in prey. Closely related to the scorpionfish, it is sedentary, usually lying partially buried in the debris of a coral reef or in mud flats. Colors are subdued, matching their background to some extent. The spines and venom glands of these fish are large. The dorsal fins become erect at the least disturbance, so if an unlucky swimmer or diver steps on the fish there is an immediate sting.   

Effects and Symptoms: Marked swelling, convulsions, and intense pain may continue for hours, disabling the victim and even causing unconsciousness. Convulsions and unconsciousness, incredible pain, and paralysis of limbs can cause swimmers to drown. Respiratory distress often leads to cardiac failure. If the victim survives, secondary infection is common and gangrene can occur. A fluctuating fever with sharp highs and lows can lead to collapse and death due to cardiac failure.

Reaction Time: Instantaneous. Recovery is a slow and painful process of weeks and months. There may be a permanent scar.  

Antidotes and Treatments: Stonefish antivenin is available, but in remote or tropical areas this may be unobtainable.  

1.     The scorpionfish can be found in the Pacific from central California to the Gulf of California. Other varieties of this fish are found in most seas. The zebrafish is found in the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific from Japan to Australia. The stonefish inhabits the Indo-Pacific and the waters around China, the Philippines, and Australia.
2.     The most familiar aquarium species are among the most venomous. Stonefish spines can penetrate flippers and thin tennis shoes as well as gloves. 


Josh Hoyt said...

My kids really want this for my aquarium. We call them lion fish. The problem is that they are very aggressive and eat other fish. Don't want it eating my 40 dollar fish yikes.

Amy Brantley said...

Very beautiful. We've been wanting to start a salt water aquarium and get one of these.

Jan Morrison said...

yikes! think I'll keep my tootsies outa the water...
Just found you the day after the challenge but hey! I'm going to check out your poisons.

Sarah Allen said...

Congrats on finishing! Great pictures :)

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Laura, we did it! Congratulations! I have an award for you!!

Arlee Bird said...

Congratulations on finishing the Challenge. I took several weeks off during May to do some travelling, which put me a bit behind on making the blog rounds. Thanks for being a part of the Challenge.

Tossing It Out

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