Toxic 'souvenir': Family stumbles upon deadly stonefish
SUSAN Brookes was shocked to find the most venomous fish in the world inside her crab pot at the Noosa River.
"I've heard that there have been sightings around Noosa but to actually see one alive was really quite frightening," Ms Brookes said.
Ms Brookes' son and grandson made the gruesome discovery on Tuesday afternoon while checking the pots.
After carefully putting it into a bucket and walking home, Ms Brookes put the stonefish in her freezer to humanely euthanise it.
While the family had never seen one in real life before, they recognised what it was and knew how deadly they could be.
"We knew not to touch it," Ms Brookes said.
"As I came back with it it, was flipping and flopping around, I had to put the bucket down a few times."
Ms Brookes said initially it was her three-year-old grandson Arc, who was visiting from Melbourne, who pointed out the muddy lump was more than what it appeared.
"We also found how camouflaged it was. With the rain and the water all brown and muddy, they're so well hidden," Ms Brookes said.
"They look like coral. It looks like a rock. If you were wading out there you wouldn't have a clue." Ms Brookes said this incident certainly reminded her of the dangers lurking below.
"I'm in the water quite a lot - crab potting, kayaking, swimming, fishing," she said.
"One of my neighbours stand up paddleboards and we're often in the water up to our knees.
"It won't stop me swimming and using my crab pots, but it changes things. If there's one, there's definitely more.
"There's not really anything you can do when you're wading around bare foot.
"These are the risks you take in Queensland. We have stingers and other dangerous animals here.
"You take that risk when you go in the water."
Ms Brookes said for the time being, the "ugly thing" would stay in her freezer.
"I might keep it as a souvenir," she said.
Stonefish live in waters around the top half of Australia with their habitat stretching down to the Tweed River, New South Wales.
It's not the first stonefish to be found in Noosa this year, as a teenager caught one in February at the main boat ramp on Gympie Tce. Its incredibly toxic venom is dispersed when the creature is stood on or disturbed and can be fatal if not treated promptly.