British expatriate finds hundreds of deadly puffer fish washed up in South Africa

0

A British expat has discovered hundreds of stranded ‘evil eye’ pufferfish washed up on a beach in South Africa.

The “evil” pufferfish are each armed with a poison more deadly than cyanide.

Tess Gridley, a Sheffield scientist, met the mass stranding on Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town, South Africa, while walking with her family.

The 'evil eyes' pufferfish, pictured above, are each armed with a poison more deadly than cyanide

The ‘evil eyes’ pufferfish, pictured above, are each armed with a poison more deadly than cyanide

Tess Gridley, a Sheffield scientist, met the mass stranding on Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town, South Africa, while walking with her family

Tess Gridley, a Sheffield scientist, met the mass stranding on Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town, South Africa, while walking with her family

Tess Gridley, a Sheffield scientist, met the mass stranding on Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town, South Africa, while walking with her family

Dr.  Gridley, pictured above, who moved to Africa in 2009, estimated that hundreds had washed up

Dr.  Gridley, pictured above, who moved to Africa in 2009, estimated that hundreds had washed up

Dr. Gridley, pictured above, who moved to Africa in 2009, estimated that hundreds had washed up

Now the South African government has identified the creature as the deadly evil puffer fish and warned locals to stay away.

Dr. Gridley, who moved to Africa in 2009, estimated that hundreds had washed up.

“The beach is 200 yards from our house and we were on a family walk,” she said.

‘I can’t say how many there were as I only looked in a small area – I was with my kids and dog preparing for field work, so it was a short visit.

“But if you had counted, it would have exceeded hundreds.”

According to the AfriOceans Conservation Alliance, a local NGO, one dog has been killed as a result of the mass stranding.

In a statement, the South African Ministry of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries said the species carries a deadly neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin.

“The beach is 200 yards from our house and we were on a family walk,” she said

'I can't say how many there were as I only looked in a small area - I was with my kids and dog preparing for field work so it was a short visit'

'I can't say how many there were as I only looked in a small area - I was with my kids and dog preparing for field work so it was a short visit'

‘I can’t say how many there were as I only looked in a small area – I was with my kids and dog preparing for field work so it was a short visit’

The South African government has identified the creature as the deadly evil puffer fish and warned locals to stay away

The South African government has identified the creature as the deadly evil puffer fish and warned locals to stay away

The South African government has identified the creature as the deadly evil puffer fish and warned locals to stay away

It is a poison more deadly than cyanide, and it causes death from respiratory failure after paralysis of the diaphragm.

The ministry statement said, “The fish deaths in False Bay are exclusively for the evil-eye puffer fish with counts of 300 to 400 dead fish per km of coast.

These dead fish all carry the deadly neurotoxin tetrodotoxin and should not be eaten; death usually comes from cardiac arrest.

Beach dog walkers are strongly advised to keep their pets away from them. If a dog eats all or part of a puffer fish, induce vomiting immediately and rush your pet to the vet. ‘

Meanwhile, the cause of the incident remains a mystery.

It is a poison more deadly than cyanide and it causes death from respiratory failure after paralysis of the diaphragm

It is a poison more deadly than cyanide and it causes death from respiratory failure after paralysis of the diaphragm

It is a poison more deadly than cyanide and it causes death from respiratory failure after paralysis of the diaphragm

These dead fish all carry the deadly neurotoxin tetrodotoxin and should not be eaten;  death usually comes from cardiac arrest, ”the statement said

These dead fish all carry the deadly neurotoxin tetrodotoxin and should not be eaten;  death usually comes from cardiac arrest, ”the statement said

These dead fish all carry the deadly neurotoxin tetrodotoxin and should not be eaten; death usually comes from cardiac arrest, ”the statement said

Previous massive strandings have been caused by red tides – an algae bloom that changes the color of the water and produces natural toxins.

However, the ministry statement notes that “there are no reports of any adverse water conditions or red tide toxins that may have caused this.”

It’s also possible that the fish were blown to shore after inflating themselves, either during a massive courtship or in response to big waves.

It's possible the fish were blown to shore after inflating themselves, either during a massive courtship or in response to big waves

It's possible the fish were blown to shore after inflating themselves, either during a massive courtship or in response to big waves

It’s possible the fish were blown to shore after inflating themselves, either during a massive courtship or in response to big waves

In any case, Dr. Gridley – who studies marine life as part of the Sea Search organization – believes the public has a role to play in future strandings.

“Be careful and tell what you see,” said the mother of two.

Don’t worry, these events happen from time to time in natural systems.

‘There is now an important role for citizen scientists in reporting these events via social media. Today, we learn a lot more about the marine environment from such reports.

“If possible, collect photos and videos that can help identify species and provide interesting insights into what lives in our oceans.”