Protaras: A potentially dangerous catfish was detected - See photo
A potentially dangerous catfish was detected in Protaras - See photo
The Department of Fisheries and Marine Research in a statement informs the public about the recording of a new foreign species of fish, the catfish Plotosus lineatus, in the waters of Cyprus. This species is a Lessepsian migrant of Indo-Pacific origin, i.e. a species that passed from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal and is now considered established in Mediterranean waters. Although the species has already been recorded in the Mediterranean since 2001, the first record in Cyprus was made only in 2022 in the sea area off the monastery of Apostolos Andreas in Karpasia and very recently, only on September 17, 2023, in the sea area of Protaras.
The catfish Plotosus lineatus is a relatively small fish, usually 15 to 25 cm long, with a brown body with white longitudinal lines and four pairs of whiskers, two above and two below the mouth. It is a benthic species that usually lives in rocky bottoms from the coast up to 60 meters deep and feeds mainly on crustaceans, molluscs and worms. Juveniles usually form dense ball-shaped flocks of about 100 individuals, while adults are either solitary or form smaller flocks of about 20 individuals and usually hide in rock crevices during the day.
The catfish is also a potentially dangerous species to catch and handle, as its dorsal and lateral fin spines and skin secretions contain potent toxins. Symptoms after a bite include local swelling around the injury site and extreme pain, and if the wound is left untreated, possibly more serious complications, even death. Treating any bite involves heating the area, usually with warm water, to limit the action of the toxin as an immediate relief measure and definitely getting to a medical center as soon as possible.
It is noted that the catfish is not the first foreign species of fish that secretes toxins to be recorded in our waters, as other such species of fish have been established for a long time, such as e.g. sea bream and lionfish. It is also worth noting that in our waters there is a record so far of the toxic Lessepsian stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa), in the sea area of the occupied Koma of Gialos in 2020. This species is relatively small in size and lives mainly in rocky bottoms and in depths up to 30 meters. The spines of the stonefish contain the protein toxin verrucotoxin (VTX), which is considered one of the strongest toxins found in marine organisms. Symptoms after a bite include, but are not limited to, extreme pain, bleeding, local swelling around the envenomation site and, if the wound is left untreated, paralysis, difficulty breathing, and even death.
Treating any bite involves warming the area, usually with warm water, to limit the action of the toxin as an immediate relief measure and definitely getting to a medical center as soon as possible. It is noted that there is an antidote for verrucotoxin, which greatly increases the possibility of effective treatment of such incidents. It is noted that TATHE has already contacted the relevant medical services, which have already secured the antidote for verrucotoxin.