A shoal of Britain’s most fearsome fish has gone on display at Bristol Aquarium.

Despite measuring less than six centimetres in length, weevers are thought to be Britain’s most dangerous marine species.

During the summer, the fish have been responsible for hundreds of injuries to beachgoers across the West Country who have accidentally stepped on the fish.

Once trodden on the weever uses specially-adapted dorsal fins to inject a fast-acting poison into the wound. The pain is described as excruciating and is at its most intense for the first two hours when the affected limb swells up.

If left untreated it will continue feeling numb until the following day and some pain may last for up to two weeks. If the spine actually breaks off in the foot it will cause discomfort until it is removed.

Bristol Aquarium’s David Waines said: “Despite their reputation, weevers are actually really gentle and do their utmost to avoid people.

“Unfortunately, during the summer months their natural home is overrun by unsuspecting holidaymakers and they just do what comes naturally to defend themselves.

“The chances of actually stepping on a weever fish are small but there are some basic precautions to avoid getting stung. The simplest is to wear some form of footwear in the water. Another way is to shuffle your feet through the sand as you walk – this disturbance should scare away any nearby fish.

“If you do get stung the most effective treatment is to put the affected limb in water as hot as the victim can stand without causing scalding,” he added.

The majority of reports of stings occur during the summer months – not because the fish are more numerous inshore at this time of year but because more people take to the water as sea temperatures rise.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information please contact David Waines or Dan de Castro on 0117 929 8929.