Brisbane children’s author Julie Fison was happily splashing away at Four Mile Beach one minute and screaming in pain the next after a garfish jumped out of the water and slapped her in the head - lodging its spike through her ear.
While it sounds like something from the pages of one of her popular children’s adventure books, Ms Fison said it was far from entertaining and required emergency surgery to repair her perforated eardrum.
The incident occurred while Ms Fison was on holiday in Port Douglas with her family recently.
“I was swimming with a friend and we were enjoying a beautiful day and we were about chest- deep when all of a sudden I felt a massive pounding in my ears, like someone had thrown a cricket ball that hit my head,” she said.
“My friend said, ’A fish hit you in the ear’, and I had seen a little flash of silver and couldn’t believe a small fish could cause so much pain, but suddenly I was paralysed with pain, my eyes closed and I could hardly stand.”
Her friend helped her to shore and the paramedics took her to Mossman hospital but when she was still in pain the next morning, she was transferred to Cairns Base Hospital where a CT scan revealed the spike lodged in her ear.
“They found a 2.5cm spike lodged through my ear drum and had actually gone through my hearing bones behind my ear drum and I was taken for a three-hour operation to have it removed, which was successful,” Ms Fison said.
“They hadn’t heard of this before, they found incidents of people being speared in the eye by a marlin and there were cases of small fish flying into people and spearing them in the leg, but a garfish in the ear?”
Two weeks later and Ms Fison is still recovering, the trauma affected the facial nerves, hearing and her eye but she is expected to make a full recovery.
“When you’re in North Queensland you’re always conscious of crocodiles, jellyfish and sharks but never consider garfish as a threat, it certainly spoilt the holiday for me,” she said.
Ms Fison said the strangest thing for her was the fact she is a children’s book author and writes adventures in a series called Hazard River with titles called Bat Attack, Toad’s Revenge and Tiger Tremor.
“I think garfish are going to have to be named and shamed, as soon as my eyesight is better I’m going to have revenge on that garfish,” she said.
OUCH: the garfish spike which perforated Julie Fison’s eardrum (inset) Julie and her husband on the reef