11/07/2005

stonefish lurking in safe singapore waters

this is an experience which i would like to share with all picnickers to our lovely little islands. do not be deceived by the apparently safe and clean waters around us. hiding in the crevices of our rock embankments that were erected during land reclamations of the islands is the highly poisonous stonefish. i have treaded and trampled along our beaches at changi and labrador, and the islands barefooted for all my adult years. never feel safer. never been hurt by anything dangerous. it happened one morning at pulau hantu during a snorkelling trip. just as i was lifting myself off the embankment into the water, i felt a stink on my big toe. i turned around immediately and saw this ugly looking stonefish sitting among the rocks, staring right at me. i quickly scrambled out of the water and called for help. my friends could not do anything as our boatman had left and would only return in the afternoon. and there was not a single boat on the island. we waved frantically at passing boats only to be greeted by friendly waves. no one would know why we were waving. fortunately a dinghy was found and i was bundled into it, hit towards a yacht nearby, transferred onto a speedboat and sped off to a nearby shell oil refining facility. this is an information worth taking note of. the shell medical unit has just the right antidote for stonefish. they have treated many such cases. when i reached there i thought i would have lost my toe. the tourniquet was too tight and my toe turned black. in the confusion and fear, everyone, including myself, forgot to release the tourniquet after a while. everything happened so fast and there was no time to know those kind souls, the dinghy owners, the yacht owners and the medical doctor at shell, except thanking them profusely. i nursed a swollen foot and leg, my foot was like a papaya, for a week. thank god i did not lose my leg or my toe, or my life. what would happen if no boat came to my rescue. our islands were too safe to think of all contingencies. it was a time when there were no handphones. i greatly appreciate those guys for their help. and again, a warning, wear your shoes in our waters. and if need help, shell refinery is the best.

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