21-year-old Juliano Bayd from Australia is a TikTok user who is a marine biology enthusiast. Walking on the beach in Queensland one day, he spotted a strange-looking fish on the seashore. Sharing a video on TikTok, he captioned, “Anyone know what this is?” Surprised, his followers and other netizens reacted and exclaimed, “Fish of death!”
“I relocated him when I accidentally stepped on his head with reef shoes, so I’m really lucky,” Juliano said. The fish on the video was actually a “Stonefish” and is considered the most venomous species of fish in the world. A single sting from these fish is lethal, and humans who experienced being stung claim that it was “the most painful.” Juliano dared not only to play with the stonefish’s mouth, but he also picked it up and gave it a kiss, prompting his followers to give him comments of warning!
Stonefish can stay hidden on the ocean floor, camouflaging themselves to their surroundings while hunting for prey. When someone accidentally steps on a Stonefish, its spikes attached to its back automatically emit venom. Incidentally, the spikes can penetrate the soles of the shoes and sting venom into the foot of the human. The person stung will experience severe pain and fever spiking, leading to death.
Watching Juliano play with the venomous Stonefish, his followers and other netizens were frightened for the young man. Here are some of the comments on his video on TikTok:
“That’s a stonefish…!”
“Are you dying?”
“Is the person who made the video still alive?”
“It almost became his last video.”
“Maybe he was thinking, ‘I want to be popular, and I want to be crazy!’”
“He would do anything stupid to make a movie!”
This video of Juliano playing with a Stonefish is quite frightening to watch. Please do not imitate him!
Facts about the Stonefish: (Scientific name: Synanceia verrucosa)
Stonefish are found in rocky or muddy bottoms of marine habitats in the Indo-Pacific region. They camouflage well with the area they are in, and they are brown with orange, yellow, or red patches in color. They resemble the rocks or corals, and you may have passed a stonefish even without noticing them. They use this strategy to hunt for their prey.
A stonefish has 13 venomous spines lining its back, which releases venom when they are threatened. It is dangerous for a person to step on a stonefish since they immediately release venom on contact. However, they use their spines defensively, NOT offensively, so it is highly unlikely that they will strike first. Their sting results in terrible pain, swelling, necrosis (tissue death), and even death.
If you are swimming in an area that may be a territory of stonefish, always keep in mind: (1) Wear water shoes, (2) Always look where you walk, and (3) Shuffle your feet along the bottom to avoid stepping directly on the fish.
Always keep safe in open waters.
Screenshot images credits: © Dragon Hunter @jaleelobayd/TikTok and Ocean Conservancy