Young girl loses chunk of toe to toadfish
This is the advice from an 11-year-old girl who lost a chunk of the second toe on her right foot when she was bitten by a toadfish.
Hayley Allen was kayaking in the Whitsunday waters off Funnel Bay with her brothers Tyson, 6, and Rhys, 5, late last month.
The children were in waist-deep water and Hayley was dangling her legs over the kayak's side.
Suddenly, she felt what she described as a "nip", before looking down and seeing a pale brown fish with faint spots.
Hayley's mum, Crystal Allen, said what happened next was like a scene from a horror movie.
"They were all just in the water and screaming," she said.
Ms Allen took Hayley straight to Proserpine Hospital, where it was determined that the ball of her second toe had been completely taken off.
"One of the nurses said straight away it would have to have been a toadfish to do that damage," she said.
Having never even heard of toadfish before, Ms Allen didn't initially believe her daughter when she said she'd been bitten by a fish.
"But now it turns out there are lots of stories," she said.
"The older locals are actually quite aware and they do know (they exist)."
One person with in-depth knowledge of toadfish incidents is David Colfelt, author of the Whitsundays' boating bible, 100 Magic Miles.
In his book, Mr Colfelt tells the story of a giant toadfish nicknamed "Thomas the Terrible", responsible for robbing six-year-old Margaret Lewis of two toes in Shute Harbour during the Easter weekend of 1979.
Later that year, a toadfish took what Mr Colfelt described as "a walnut-sized chunk" from the leg of a boy wading in Cid Harbour and a fisherman named Richard Timperley was chased by the sharp-beaked beast.
The case attracted media and public attention and the then Proserpine shire council put a $10 bounty on the marine menaces.
Toadfish are found in shallow coastal waters along the east coast from north Queensland to southern New South Wales.