Its squat form, its warty, scale-less skin and its colouring in a mix of browns and oranges all allow the stonefish to conceal itself in its natural environment.
It can also burrow under the sand, with only its back protruding.
Being a poor swimmer, it prefers to lie in wait to hunt animals that live just above the ocean floor, preferably by night. It seizes them with surprising speed and is able to gulp down some very big prey indeed.
The stonefish has 13 short dorsal spines hollowed out by a channel and connected at their base to two venom glands. When those spines enter a victim's skin, the glands are compressed and the venom is injected.
This fish is reputed to be the most venomous in the world. Is venom is a powerful neurotoxin that paralyses the muscles and attacks the nervous system.
Its sting causes sharp pain, often followed by a loss of consciousness.
Fatalities are rare, although local complications are to be feared, like necrosis, secondary infections and septicaemia.
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