The Whitsunday Islands are one of the most famous tourist regions in Queensland, Australia. Beaches at this usually peaceful scenic tourist region are closed as of Thursday when an elderly woman was bitten while wading in shallow waters ad Catseye beach on Hamilton Island. A girl remains in hospital in a stable condition after being attacked in the Whitsunday Islands by what was first believed to be a shark.
After a second look, it wasn’t a shark, but a toadfish that attacked the visitors. Along with related toadfish species, it is known in Australia as a “toadie.” As with other fish of this family, the flesh is poisonous, due to tetrodotoxin, and eating the fish can have fatal consequences. Toadfishes are heavy-bodied fishes with broad, flattened heads and large mouths equipped with strong teeth. They grow to a maximum of about 40 cm (16 inches) and either are scaleless or have small scales. Most can produce audible grunting or croaking sounds.
“Independent testing has suggested a fish was responsible in this instance, not a shark,” a spokesman for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told AAP News in Australia.
The nine-year-old girl was transferred by boat to Proserpine Hospital for treatment for a bite to her foot.
The woman remained on the island and was treated at a local medical center for a wound on her right leg.
Neither injuries are life-threatening, with Hamilton Island operators saying the animal was believed to be less than a meter long.