Visitors to the coast are being warned to tread carefully as an unwelcome visitor makes its way to our beaches.

Litter, crowds and a lack of social distancing is not the only thing we should be concerned about at the seaside this summer.

Like the thousands of people who have been flocking to Dorset beaches, the venomous weever fish is attracted by the hot weather.

It has once again been claiming victims on Weymouth Beach.

One local person, who didn't want to be identified, said: "I was going in for a swim the other day during the mini-heatwave. I suddenly felt this searing pain but had no idea what it was.

"I didn't want to bother people at the hospital even though the pain was terrible.

"But when I rang the GP surgery they told me it was likely to have been a weever fish as they had seen a few other cases."

They bury themselves in the sand at low tide so they can ambush small fish, and with only their eyes and spines poking out they are very difficult to see.

Their sting is excruciatingly painful – like standing on a sharp stone or a piece of glass.

The severity of a sting depends on how you stand on it. If you stand directly onto the fish’s spinal fin, it causes the most pain.

The best thing to do if you are stung is to go to a lifeguard unit as they can treat it by placing the foot into hot water. The heat breaks down the toxins and soothes the pain quite quickly.

RNLI lifeguard have become their summer patrols with units now on Weymouth Beach and patrols starting at West Bay and Lyme Regis from this Saturday.

The lifesaving charity says beachgoers should actually be more mindful of sea safety.

An RNLI spokesman said: "Our lifeguards deal with and treat hundreds of weever fish stings every year. While these stings are painful, they are generally nothing to worry about and will not cause any significant damage.

‘You can avoid the fish either by wearing wetsuit or swimming shoes to protect your foot or by dragging your feet along the sand as you walk. This movement disrupts the sand and scares any nearby fish away.

"Lifeguards can treat a sting by placing the affected area into hot water. This breaks up the venom and usually after around 10 minutes, the pain will ease. We’ll then monitor you for a short while just in case you experience any allergic reaction."

The spokesman added: "There are far greater risks and hazards associated with the coastal environment than weever fish stings. We would encourage people to go to a lifeguarded beach when they visit the coast, understand the nature of tides, water movement and the effects of cold water.

"If you are planning on going in the water, swim between the red and yellow flags, the area our lifeguards have designated as the safest. If you need any advice on how to stay safe at the beach, our lifeguards are always happy to help."