A COOLUM family's enjoyment of the calm, shallow waters at Cotton Tree was destroyed after seeing a deadly fish cruising only metres from their feet.
Ali and Daniel Morris were having fun at Cotton Tree with their two sons on Saturday morning, February 4, when they were warned there was a stonefish in the water.
"It was between the park and bridge around 11am," Mrs Morris said.
"You go to Cotton Tree because the waters are so calm, you don't need to worry about the kids.
"It was low tide and we were paddling in the water. The family up from us walked over to me and said 'be careful as there is a stonefish heading down your way.
"We walked up to them and there it was, three metres in from the water's edge, right there in the shallows.
"There were family everywhere and people SUPing (stand up paddleboarding)."
It was after Mrs Morris went home and Googled the stonefish that she realised just how dangerous it was.
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"You have got to be careful," she said.
"You think they would be where rocks are, but this one was right on the sand, three metres in from the waters edge."
She shared her story as she wanted other families to be aware of the possible danger.
The Queensland Museum lists stonefish as the most venomous fish in the world and they are found throughout shallow coastal waters in the "the northern half of Australia".
It has "13 sharp strong dorsal fine spines contained within a sheath of thick skin".
Stings usually occur on the feet of swimmers or waders and the pain is "immediate, excruciating and may last for many days".
"Muscular paralysis, breathing difficulties, shock, and sometimes heart failure and death can ensue," the website advises.
"To prevent stonefish stings, sturdy footwear should be worn on reef flats, or while wading on soft-bottom substrates adjacent to rocky or weedy areas.
"In the event of a sting, the victim should leave the water, apply first aid and seek medical attention as soon as possible."
In January 2012, police officer Jamie Mclean passed out in agony after standing on a stonefish at Mooloolaba.
Marine biologist Geoff Dews said at the time he had spotted the species on at least two occasions at Mooloolaba after a big swell and said they could also be found among kelp and in rubble.
He said they were also likely to be found in the rubble around Old Woman Island.
The Sunshine Coast has been making headlines around the world for its dangerous creatures found in its waterways this summer.
In early January, there were reports of a crocodile sighting at Coolum Creek. Only a few weeks later, a type of box jellyfish, the morbakka was found at Kawana and also at Mooloolaba.
The beaches have also been inundated with stingers and Surf Life Saving Queensland reported there had been nearly 23,000 reported stings between December 1 to Jan 31.