Thursday, November 02, 2006

"From the deep":

"Bathers off Jebel Ali have reported a series of agonising attacks that have left marine experts scratching their heads." By the way, this the same beach Michael and I go to every week end. " So far, four 7DAYS readers have reported attacks by the mystery creature, leaving two or three puncture wounds. All victims suffered profuse bleeding and severe pain lasting up to eight hours. The bathers speculated it might have been a stingray, but marine experts say that’s probably a red herring. In fact, experts say, the attacks show none of the trademarks of local species, and they believe that offshore developments may have brought unfamiliar creatures into our waters.

If you go down to the beach today, you could be in for a big surprise – a mysterious aquatic pest with a terrible way of defending itself. On Monday, the 7DAYS letters page reported the first attack by a beast that leaves its agonised victims gushing blood from multiple wounds. Ute dipped a foot into 60cm of water on the beach on the first day of Eid and was left in agony for eight hours.

Jonathan Ali Khan of Ocean World Productions, currently filming the second series of ‘Cycle of Life’ for regional television, says any number of fishes could be the culprit. “Everyone is going to think it’s a stingray but I wouldn’t think it would be one if there are two or three wounds,” he says. “A sea-snake bite would be far worse and their mouths are too small to bite an ankle.” He suggests a flounder or Moses sole could be the villain - both of which are likely to lurk under the sand off Jebel Ali. However, he feels the most likely culprit could be a reef fish.

“The only thing that could really do this is a fish with spines and a venom gland,” he says. “I would suggest something from the Stonefish or Scorpionfish families, probably a juvenile because an adult’s sting would be worse.” Neither fish would normally be on a sandy seabed near the beach but offshore development could be bringing reef fish closer in.

What is the Jebel Ali Ankle Nipper?

Poisonous; The nipper causes agonising pain that lasts for eight hours.
Anticoagulant;The nipper causes profuse bleeding.
Multiple puncture wounds; Victims report two or three cuts in their ankles.
Violent; Victims say the nipper reacts aggressively and tugs at their feet.

Prime Suspects

Stingray; The defence
A typical stingrays only has one spine.
The prosecution. They could strike twice or it could be a species with two barbs.

Sea-snake; The defence
Too venomous and mouths too small.
The prosecution. Very common to the area.

Moses Sole or another flatfish; The defence
Not venomous.
The prosecution. They have two long spines and mucus that could cause pain.

A Stonefish, Scorpionfish or Lionfish; The defence
Not normally near the beach.
The prosecution. Venomous with painful reactions.

The verdict:
Tiny sting rays!
"The dark spotted Stingray is commonly found on the beaches in the Jebel Ali area and is much smaller than many other species, generally with a body size of less than 30 cm.”
Report taken from 7 days local newspaper.


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