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Lesser Weever(fish), Echiichthys vipera

Irish Record Fish: not recognised
Caught: not recognised
Boat Specimen: not recognised
Shore Specimen: not recognised
Photo Credit:

Introduction: The Lesser Weever(fish) is a species to be avoided due to the poisonous spines in its black dorsal fins.  There may also be poison glands associated with spines on the gills covers (with thanks to Thorke Ostergaard). Typically found on shallow sandy beaches, it can inflict a painful injury as many a poor bather can testity. The only way to treat the protein based poison is to steep the injury in extremely hot water (as hot as you can bear) as this will "cook out" the poison.  As unpleasant as this may seem, it is apparently far better than leaving the poison untreated.  They like really clean sandy beaches, so any blue flag beaches (of which there are hundreds in Ireland) will likely produce weaverfish.  A small ambush predator, it is possessed of a remarkably large mouth! The Greater Weever(fish) can reach > 1 kilo and also warrants very careful handling!

Boat tactics: This is a nasty nuisance and is typically encountered when fishing beaches or sand banks for flatfish.   Ironically it is a sign of a clean environment.  Take particular care of the black dorsal fin and spines holding the poison.  The fish only grows to about 20 cms (6 inches) and whilst we know some anglers cut the head off to solve the unhooking issue, in these troubled times and with an eye to conservation, perhaps we should afford them some respect; - it is not their fault they are poisonous, only our mistake for getting stuck!

Shore tactics: Avoid them - the only tactic you need to know is how to recognise one, preferably before it sticks you, and how to keep curoius foolish children away as you unhook and release one back into the wilds!   They are the main reason why you should not go fishing barefoot on a clean sandy beach anywhere in Ireland.