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Overview

Brief Summary

There are two species of weevers found in the North Sea: the greater and lesser weever. The greater weever can grow to 40 centimeters. The lesser weever doesn't grow any longer than 16 centimeters and is found in much greater numbers close to the coast. Both species are benthic fish, mostly active in the evening and night and burrow themselves into the sand during the day. They eat small crustaceans and small benthic fish.
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Littoral and benthic, on sandy, muddy or gravelly bottoms, from a few meters to about 150 m (in winter). Rest on the bottom, often buried with eyes and tip of first dorsal fin exposed. Considered as the most dangerous of the European weevers, both for its poison and for its frequent occurrence very near to beaches (Ref. 6762). There are venom glands on the first dorsal fin, which is totally black, and on the gill cover (Ref. 6790). Also Ref. 57406.
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Description

 The lesser weever fish has a short stout body and grows up to 14cm in length. It has a large sloping mouth and pointed snout with eyes high on the head. The first dorsal fin is triangular and entirely black with an elongated first spine on the male. The second dorsal and anal fins extend almost to the tail and the pectoral fins are large and paddle shaped. The gill covers have a long spine pointing backwards. The fish is yellowish brown with a paler underside.The spines of the first dorsal fin and gill covers release a poison that give an extremely painful sting to bathers or fishermen treading on the buried fish. The name weever is derived from the Anglo-saxon word meaning viper and reflects the venomous nature of the fish.
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Distribution

Mediterranean Sea, eastern Atlantic: Western Baltic Sea and North Sea to Morocco including Madeira and Canary Islands.
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Eastern Atlantic: North Sea to the Mediterranean, Morocco and Madeira. Reported from the Canary Islands (Ref. 3397).
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Physical Description

Size

Max. size

15.0 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 4675))
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Diagnostic Description

Body elongate. Coloration grey-brown on the back and silvery-white on the sides. No spines in front of the eyes (Ref. 35388).
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Ecology

Habitat

Environment

demersal; marine
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Depth range based on 15975 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 10231 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -9 - 164
  Temperature range (°C): 6.911 - 12.274
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.402 - 16.868
  Salinity (PPS): 31.982 - 35.546
  Oxygen (ml/l): 5.632 - 6.677
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.247 - 0.890
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 11.419

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -9 - 164

Temperature range (°C): 6.911 - 12.274

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.402 - 16.868

Salinity (PPS): 31.982 - 35.546

Oxygen (ml/l): 5.632 - 6.677

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.247 - 0.890

Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 11.419
 
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 Common on clean sandy bottoms from the low water mark to the shallow sub-littoral down to 50 m. The species lives buried in the sand with only the head and back uncovered. The species is probably most active at night.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Echiichthys vipera

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 20
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Threats

Not Evaluated
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; gamefish: yes; price category: unknown; price reliability:
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Wikipedia

Lesser weever

The lesser weever, Echiichthys vipera, is a venomous weever of the family Trachinidae, in the order Perciformes, and the class Actinopterygii. It is generally found on the sandy sea beds of the open sea, near the shore. Lesser weevers may sting swimmers badly if disturbed in the water, and fishermen when they clean their fishing nets.

The lesser weever grows up to 18 cm long, but generally less than 15 cm, with an elongated body. Its color can be described as greyish-brown on the back and silvery-white on the sides. It has no spines in front of its eyes.

Habitat[edit]

Lesser weever fish occur in the eastern Atlantic from the North Sea around the British Isles to Morocco and Madeira, and in the Mediterranean. They are typically found resting on the bottom, partially buried with eyes and tip of first dorsal fin exposed.

Biology[edit]

The lesser weever is littoral and benthic, living on sandy, muddy bottoms, ranging from a few meters deep to 150 m (in winter). Resting on the bottom, its position can be described as with eyes buried and the tip of the first dorsal fin exposed. Because of its venom and its occurrence near beaches, it is considered to be one of Europe's most dangerous weever species. The venom glands are located on its first dorsal fin, which is completely black, and on the gill cover. This species has the most potent toxin of all the weevers.[1]

Effect on humans[edit]

Lesser weever fish, caught whilst beach fishing at Prestatyn, North Wales. Note the highly distinctive venomous dorsal spines (separated by almost-black-coloured skin) and dark-tipped tail

The sting of a weever is acute and intense. The pain frequently is radiated to the area around the limb.[2] The seriousness of the pain reaches its peak 30 minutes after the sting, and then slowly decreases. However, some pain (or other sensation, such as a tingle) may continue to affect the area for up to 24 hours. Very rarely, pain can be propagated to the tributary lymph nodes, i.e. those in the groin (when the sting is on the sole of the foot), or those in the armpit (if the sting is on the hands).

The best first aid is to wash the wound, and then to immerse it in very hot water for at least an hour, to ease the pain and help destroy the protein-based venom. Water temperature for immersion should be 40°C (104°F) or as hot as the patient can tolerate. Also, reassure the patient of the relative harmlessness of the sting.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Renco Štefić,Priroda jadrana,1997
  2. ^ "pagina trasferita". W3.uniroma1.it. Retrieved 2013-04-13. 
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