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  • Dut: Kleine pieterman (puikelaar, puikeling, pukkel, stekeltje)
  • Lat: Echiichthys vipera
  • Eng: Lesser weever
  • Ger: Kleiner Petermann (Petermännchen)
  • Dan: Fjæsing
  • Dut: Grote pieterman (arend, merlaan, peitervis, steekvis)
  • Lat: Trachinus draco
  • Eng: Greater weever
  • Ger: Großes Petermännchen
  • (Drachenfisch, Petermann)
  • Fren: Vive (vive commune)
  • Dan: Fjæsing
Lesser weever., Foto


There are two species of weevers found in the North Sea: the greater and lesser weever. The greater weever can grow to 40 centimeters. The lesser weever doesn't grow any longer than 16 centimeters and is found in much greater numbers close to the coast. Both species are benthic fish, mostly active in the evening and night and burrow themselves into the sand during the day. They eat small crustaceans and small benthic fish.

  • Dangerous thorns

    When a weever burrows itself into the sandy bottom, only its eyes and dorsal fins stick out of the sand. There are spines located on the dorsal fin and the gill covers, which are connected to toxic glands. If a swimmer should step on the dorsal fin, a poison enters the bloodstream via the wound almost immediately. The poison affects the blood cells and causes terrific pain. Other possible effects from a weever sting are heart and breathing problems and unconsciousness. Cleansing with hot water and/or vinegar inactivates the poison and helps reduce the pain. The dose of poison from the lesser weever produces an irritating pain but is rarely dangerous. However the dose from a greater weever can cause shock.

    The greater weever spends most of the year in deep water, but it migrates to the shallow coastal water in the summer. The lesser weever lives in shallow water and is very regularly reported along the Dutch beaches. Swimmers are stung by a lesser weever every year.

  • Distribution and habitat of greater weevers
    Distribution of the greater weever in European waters, File viseur.cdr

    The greater weever used to be very common in the Dutch North Sea, but practically disappeared after the severe winter of 1962-1963. The largest population was located directly west of the northern tip of North-Holland and Texel. Fishermen landed 30 to 40 tons of greater weevers yearly at the end of the 1950s. In those days, the fish was worth a reasonable price since it was considered a delicacy among connoisseurs. Since the arrival of the beam trawl with tickler chains, the greater weever population has strongly declined.

  • Distribution and habitat of the leser weever
    Distribution of the greater weever, Ecomare