Coast guard (archives)
Photo: Doron Golan
The poisonous blowfish
Photo: Visual/Photos
Haifa: Ukrainian sailors hospitalized after eating poisonous fish
Ship’s cook fighting for his life at Rambam Medical Center following consumption of blowfish’s liver containing toxins
Ukrainian seamen who innocently indulged in the fish they caught at Haifa Bay found themselves

in the hospital Sunday afternoon. 


The men consumed a blowfish and upon falling ill were taken to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. The ship’s cook is in critical condition and the six others, including the captain, are in light condition.


At around 4 pm the Israeli coastguard at the Haifa Bay received a dispatch on a medical emergency on a Ukrainian boat harbored 3.5 kilometers (about 2.1 miles) from the port.


One of the unit’s boats arrived on the scene and transferred the ship’s cook, whose condition was then considered moderate, to the coast.


A senior coastguard official told Ynet that the evacuation was very difficult due to stormy seas.


Finally, the cook was placed on the ship’s emergency boat and then picked up by the coastguard vessel.


During the ride to the coast, his condition worsened and he lost consciousness. The police began resuscitating him and then continued on their way to the port.


It was simultaneously reported that additional shipmates began feeling ill. The senior coastguard official said that in coordination with the Haifa port’s management, the ship was permitted to enter the Kishon port, where it anchored.


Upon their arrival at the port, Magen David Adom emergency teams immediately evacuated the cook to the hospital while resuscitating some of the others.


'We hope to save his life'

The Rambam Medical Center issued a statement saying that the Ukrainian cook is being treated in the trauma unit, connected to a respirator and anaesthetized. He is also receiving additional treatment to neutralize the poisoning.


Dr. Yaron Bar-Lavi, head of the intensive-care unit at Rambam said that it is likely that the cook ate the fish’s liver, the place in which poison is produced.


“This is a very strong poison which causes paralyses of the muscles; this most likely caused the heart failure. Luckily, he received resuscitation almost immediately and we hope that it will be possible to save his life,” said Bar-Lavi.


The blowfish, which are intruders in the Mediterranean Sea, have multiplied in recent years.


There are disputes about when the fish arrived in the Mediterranean and two major theories have arisen: One is that it “wandered” through the Suez Canal and the other is that it was brought by ships which arrived in these waters from the Far East.


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