Needlefish impales itself through boy's neck and throws him overboard

Teenager had to swim to shore as creature kept thrashing about - while still jammed through skull

Colin Drury
Friday 24 January 2020 16:59
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Needlefish
Needlefish

An Indonesian teenager out fishing has had the tables turned – after one of the animals speared him instead.

Muhammad Idul required life-saving treatment after being impaled by a jumping needlefish.

The sea creature’s spiked snout sliced straight through the 16-year-old’s neck and came out the back of his skull as he sat on a boat tending his equipment.

Such was the impact the youngster was knocked into the water, he has told the BBC.

He had to swim to safety as the fish continued thrashing about while still jammed into his neck.

He survived after his father rushed him the 90 minutes to hospital in the city of Baubau on the country’s Buton island.

The incident occurred while Muhammed was on a night time fishing expedition with a friend, Sardi.

He said: “His boat sailed off first, and I went later in another boat. About 500 metres off the beach, Sardi turned on the flashlight. A needlefish suddenly jumped out of the water and stabbed my neck."

He told the BBC that after getting back to shore, he asked his friend to help pull the fish out.

“He stopped me from trying to remove the fish to prevent bleeding," he said.

At hospital, five specialists completed a complex two-hour operation to remove the creature.

“To remove the fish snout, one must be very careful because there is a large vessel in the neck,” Dr Syafri Arif told local news site Makassar Terkin. “The child is relatively stable.”

Needlefish are distinguished by their long, slender jaw which bears multiple sharp teeth capable of inflicting deep wounds.

They are also adept jumpers renowned for leaping out of the water at speeds of up to 40mph.

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