MANATEE -- Two Manatee County teens contracted a potentially deadly illness while on a fishing trip in the Bahamas.
One of the teens in home now and the other is still in a Miami hospital. Their symptoms included hallucinations, seizures, vomiting and shaking all from eating some bad fish.
Fourteen-year-old Marlin Ellis, 15-year-old Austin Goncalves, Austin’s mother and boyfriend were supposed to be on a fun trip to the Bahamas last week. It was until they decided to go on a fishing trip.
“We were just going to go down there and do some spear fishing and diving,” said Ellis.
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Marlin and Austin dove along a coral reef and harpooned two large fish. One was a porgy mutton snapper they ate the next day.
“We fried it and just ate it with some tartar sauce," he said.
The next day Marlin started feeling sick and throwing up.
Then everyone got sick. The whole group ended up at the hospital. Marlin was even having hallucinations.
“I remember being really scared," he said.
Marlin's parents say doctors didn't know what was wrong.
“They didn’t have a treatment or a game plan so we felt kind of helpless,” said Marlin’s dad, Adam Ellis.
That's when Adam Ellis decided to bring his son back to Florida. A doctor in Miami diagnosed the symptoms as ciguatera poisoning, a deadly disease from eating fish that have ingested toxins from algae.
Marlin is doing better now, however, his doctor said he could have health problems in the future because of the poisoning. Austin had a more severe case and is still in the Miami hospital. Austin’s sister said it was scary to see him so ill.
“He wasn’t able to eat for about six days and he was already pretty skinny as it was and he is still a little shaky,” said Christina Martin.
Austin’s family hopes that he will be home next week. Austin and his mother’s medical bills are now around $30,000.
There will be a benefit for Austin on Aug. 2 at the Blue Marlin restaurant on Bridge Street on Bradenton Beach.
The marine biologist from the Florida Aquarium says there is about a 1-in-50 chance of contracting ciguatera poisoning around the Gulf but it is best to avoid eating large fish that feed on coral algae.