The next time you’re in Bournemouth and someone tells you to get in the water and that’s it’s perfectly safe, think again. The English Channel may not be home to the Great White shark, and may not even have killer eels, deadly Manta Rays or ship-eating giant squid, but there are still plenty of Dover Soles.
Yes, the Dover Sole, those little flatfish that you used to be able to buy from your local fishmonger’s before he closed down in order to allow EU fishermen to vaccum up everything bigger than a whelk.
In a recent public safety warning, Police announced that fisherman Sam Quilliam, 28, almost died after a juvenile Dover Sole attempted to choke him to death. The fish, which had been contentedly laying on the seabed until he was conned into grabbing a worm Mr Quilliam had used to disguise a sharp hook and pulled to the surface and was presumably annoyed, waited until the fisherman foolishly posed for the inevitable photo and then jumped headfirst into his inviting mouth.
Wriggling as far down Mr Quilliam’s throat as he could, the fish then embedded his barbs and gills into the surrounding tissue and waitied for his victim, who by then was running around like a headless chicken, to die. It wasn’t long before the fish won, and Mr Quilliam’s heart went into cardiac arrest.
Mr Quilliam’s friends Steve Perry and Matt Holmes acted on instinct when they helped revive Sam. Steve said: ‘It was just sheer panic, it was horrendous. We reacted on our instincts. Matt was pumping his chest and I was doing the breaths. He was dead, his heart had stopped”
Fortunately, a paramedic eventually arrived and was able to extract the fish, and Mr Quilliam regained consciousness. “I was so relieved when he came round” Mr Perry said, “People have joked about it since but it wasn’t a joke. He could have died, he could have had severe brain damage. We just thank God he is still here.”
Nobody mentioned the fate of the fish but all evidence suggests it probably ended up on toast. The immediate and obvious danger averted, Police nonetheless warn bathers to be on the lookout for aggressive Dover Soles and not to try taking open-mouthed selfies with one in the vicinity.