JAKARTA: While out fishing on Saturday night in waters just 5km from his home in Wakinamboro village, South Buton, Southeast Sulawesi, 16-year-old Muhammad Idul was impaled in the neck by a needlefish.
Living in the village on Siompu Island, Muhammad and his school friend Sardi are used to night fishing. Each of them was sailing a small boat, and they were already 500m away from the coast when the unexpected happened.
“Sardi sailed in front of me. He didn’t know that I was right behind him, so he turned on a flashlight. A needlefish immediately jumped in my direction right after he turned on the flashlight, and its jaw pierced the left side of my neck, ” Idul said on Thursday.
After being impaled in the neck, he fell into the water and was forced a few meters away from his boat because the fish kept on moving.
Idul wanted to remove the fish immediately, but Sardi said he was not bleeding.
“I hesitated to take it out because I was scared it would cause bleeding, ” Idul said.
They swam to the shore because Idul could not get on his boat. Sardi helped him as Idul had to keep hold of the fish with one hand. Once they arrived on land, Sardi and Idul’s other schoolmates took him home. He wrapped the fish on his head until he arrived home.
When Idul’s father Saharuddin opened the door, he saw his son holding the fish to his head.
He immediately took Idul to Siloam Hospital on Buton Island.
According to Saharuddin, this was not the first time someone had been injured by a flying needlefish.
“A lot of people have been impaled by the fish in their arms or legs in the past, but they take it out on their own. Idul got impaled in his neck, so we took him to the hospital, ” he said.
There are many needlefish around Buton waters near Siompu Island. Fishermen often catch them to eat. People in the area know that while not known to be aggressive, needlefish often jump out of the water for various reasons.
“I’m still traumatised by the incident, but I will fish again. I have to wait until my injury heals and I have gotten over the trauma, ” Idul said.
Idul had to have surgery lasting over an hour at Wahidin Sudirohusodo Hospital in Makassar, the provincial capital, last Monday.
Hospital director Khalid Saleh said the surgery went well and Idul’s condition has improved. The doctors said about 15cm of the fish’s jaw was in Idul’s neck.
Khalid also said this was the first time the hospital had handled such a case. — The Jakarta Post/ANN
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