DANGEROUS MARINE CREATURES

As on land, the food chain underwater is very competitive. The more dangerous of underwater creatures are often armed with razor sharp teeth and poisonous spines or tentacles, the others, well camouflaged. These creatures seldom attack divers without provocation.
There are various underwater creatures that may be dangerous to divers. Most of the time, the danger lies when the diver does not know what and where the danger lies. Common causes of injury due to underwater creatures are lack of knowledge of the lifestyles of dangerous creatures, invasion of territory or provocation, and unprotected skin.
We must understand that we, as divers, are guests in the underwater domain. We must always be mindful of this and must remain respectful of all the creatures in the beautiful underwater world.

Out of all the potentially harmful creatures underwater, some are more dangerous than others. Below, we have ranked some of these creatures.

Capable of inflicting life threatening injuries.

Although not likely, have been known to cause death.

Non life threatening, but nonetheless should be kept in mind.


SHARKS
There are approximately 250 species of sharks. Of these, only 10 species are considered dangerous to man. Great white sharks, hammer head sharks, tiger sharks, bull sharks and blue sharks are a few of these dangerous sharks. When diving with sharks, use extreme caution. Leave the water immediately if the sharks start darting, making quick turns, swimming with down turned pectorial fins, or otherwise seem excited. Exit the water without agitating the sharks further.
Smaller sharks, such as the cat shark, have sharp spines on their backs. Do not attempt to handle sharks, even if the shark seems harmless.
SHARK ATTACK FIRST AID
Stay calm and exit the water as soon as possible. Apply pressure directly to the wounds to stop bleeding and elevate the wound above the level of the heart. While stopping the bleeding is a top priority, circulation should not be affected. Tourniquets should only be applied only in life threatening situations, and only by experienced persons. Get the victim to a hospital as soon as possible.
CAT SHARK
SAND TIGER SHARK
GREY REEF SHARK

MOREY EELS
Morey eels are very colorful, with leathery skin and very sharp teeth. Moreys often hide in coral reef or kelp beds and wait for passing prey. Do not stick your arms or legs into crevices or kelp beds you can't see into. They have been known to inflict serious wounds when touched or disturbed.
MOREY EEL BITE FIRST AID
If the animal is still attached to the diver, do not try to pull the morey off. Try to distract it or render it unconscious. Injure the animal only as a last resort.
Stop the bleeding and remove all tooth fragments. Do not close the puncture wounds tightly since risk of infection is great.
MOREY EEL
MOREY EEL

BARRACUDAS
Some species of barracuda can grow to over 2 meters or 6 feet long, and have a tendency to attack shiny or moving objects underwater. Enter the water slowly, without splashing, when entering waters inhabited by barracudas, so not to be mistaken for food.
BARRACUDA BITE FIRST AID
Like shark bites, stopping the bleeding should be the first priority. Be careful not to stop blood circulation.
BARRACUDA

SEA SNAKES
Sea snakes have a very lethal venom and its bites may lead to death. Although sea snakes do not attack humans, avoid touching them. Getting to know the various species of sea snakes is very important. In case of a sea snake bite, anti-venom will differ by the species of snake.
Snakes are usually found along the coastlines of fresh and salt water bodies. Be aware of where you step and place your hands along these coastlines, so as not to accidently provoke the snakes.
SEA SNAKE BITE FIRST AID
Place a cloth of gauze pad and wrap it around the bite wound without cutting off blood circulation. Get the victim to a hospital as soon as possible. It is very important to know the species of snake that bit the victim.

SEA SNAKE


BLUE RINGED OCTOPUS
The blue ringed octopus, also called the devil fish, is a very small octopus identified by its dark blue rings. This octopus releases a stong toxin when bitten. Do not attempt to handle this creature.
OCTOPUS BITE FIRST AID
Wrap the wound with a piece of cloth or gauze, without affecting blood circulation. Get the victim to a hospital as soon as possible.
A bite from an Austalian blue ringed octopus is much more dangerous. Anticipate paralysis. Artificial respiration may be required.

BLUE RINGED OCTOPUS


NEEDLEFISH
The needlefish is a long slender fish with a very sharp needle-like beak. This fish is a surface dweller and can injure divers by darting directly into divers with its sharp beak. The needlefish is a very dangerous nocturnal creature and must always be kept in mind when night diving, especially during entries and exits.
Needlefish being nocturnal, thus attracted to light, night divers need to be aware of how they handle the dive lights. When entering the water, refrain from shining the light around horizontally and always keep the dive light pointed downward to avoid darting needlefish. If needlefish in the area is suspected, turn off or drop dive light.
NEEDLEFISH PUNCTURE FIRST AID
Apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. If the beak of the needlefish remains in the victim, do not remove it. Cut the fish off gently about 2 to 3 inches from the body. Wrap the wound to keep the remaining portion of the fish from moving and get the victim to a hospital as quickly as possible.

NEEDLEFISH


STING RAYS
A flattened, disk shaped, salt water fish with a whip like tail. Sting rays are most often found in warm seas and have been known to attack humans. If attacked, surgery may be required to remove the broken off spine, with which the sting ray attacks. The sting causes horrible pain and in a few cases, death. In the case of the electric sting ray, it delivers a sting of 200 volts.
Since most injuries occur when stepped on, always watch your step when wading in shallow waters. The handling of sting rays is not advised
STING RAY ENVENOMATION FIRST AID
Rinse wound with fresh water. Immerse wound in hot water to relieve pain. Remove any visible pieces of spine or stinger. Wash wound with soap and water.
ELECTRIC RAY
STING RAY

SCORPION FISH
There are a lot of types of scorpion fish and most, if not all, are venomous. Although these fish generally do not attack divers, they may approach divers out of curiosity. Attemps to handle these fish are not advised.
The stone fish is very good at camouflage and is often mistaken for a piece of stone or reef. It's dorsal fins contain venom and can cause extreme pain and swelling. Like the stone fish, the lion fish has venom on it's dorsal fins which causes painful swelling.
SCORPION FISH ENVENOMATION FIRST AID
Immerse the wound in hot water to relieve pain. Remove any visible pieces of spines and wash the wound with soap and water.
STONE FISH
RED LION FISH
STONE FISH
STING FISH

PORCUPINE FISH
The porcupine fish is relatevely harmless, unless touched. It has very sharp and hard spikes around the body which will inflict puncture wounds if enough pressure is applied.
PORCUPINE FISH PUNCTURE FIRST AID
Apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. Wash wound with soap and water.

PORCUPINE FISH


FIRE FISH
The fire fish is a sand bottom dweller which spread its fins while swimming. The fire fish is identified by a black spot located on the dorsal fin. Its dorsal fin contains venom which causes painful swelling. The fire fish is nocturnal and spend the day burrowed in sand or in crevices. Always watch your step when wading in shallow waters.
FIRE FISH ENVENOMATIONS
Immerse the wound in hot water to relieve pain. Remove any visible pieces of spine or stingers and wash the wound with soap and water.

FIRE FISH


CAT FISH
Cat fish are identified by their yellow stripes and are found in large schools. Its venom is also on its dorsal fins. Cat fish are also night dwellers and also burrow in sand or hide in crevices during the day.
CAT FISH ENVENOMATION FIRST AID
Immerse the wound in hot water to relieve the pain. Remove any visible pieces of spine or stingers, wash wound with soap and water.

CAT FISH


STINGING HYDROID
The stinging hydroid is a soft coral resembling chicken feathers. When brushed upon, it can cause pain and swelling. Do not touch. Wear a wet suit and gloves whenever possible. Hydroids are found on mooring buoy lines or chains, and like anemones, hydroids also grow downward, under crevices. Be careful when looking into crevices, not to get stung on the back of the neck.
HYDROID STING FIRST AID
Rinse with sea water, not fresh water. Do not apply ice and do not rub. Apply vinegar to relieve pain.
STINGING HYDROID

FIRE CORAL
Fire coral can cause pain when brushed against. Do not touch. Wear a wet suit and gloves whenever possible.
FIRE CORAL STING FIRST AID
Rinse the sting with sea water, not fresh water. Do not apply ice and do not rub. Apply vinegar to relieve pain.

FIRE CORAL


JELLY FISH
There are many kinds of jelly fish and human reaction to its stings varies. Several of these stinging jelly fish are the lion's mane jelly fish, the box jelly fish, and the portuguese man of war. Victims may feel a burning sensation or develop painful welts. Wear a wet suit whenever possible. Cover the skin as much as possible when diving in infested waters.
JELLY FISH STING FIRST AID
Immediately rinse the stung area with sea water, not fresh water. Do not apply ice and do not rub the affected skin. Apply vinegar to relieve the pain. Remove large fragments of tentacles. Shave the affected area to remove the remaining tentacle fragments. Reapply vinegar as needed.
BOX JELLYFISH

PORTUGUESE MAN OF WAR

The stingers of hydroids, sea anemones, jelly fish and fire corals remain alive after being separated from the animal. Avoid touching unprotected skin with gloves that have made contact with these stinging animals.

CROWN OF THORNS STARFISH
Usually found in the southern hemisphere, it eats coral and has venomous spines. Its stings can cause pain and swelling. Wear boots when walking in shallow waters.
STARFISH PUNCTURE FIRST AID
Immerse the wound in hot water to relieve pain. Remove any visible pieces of spine or stingers and wash with soap and water.

CROWN OF THORNS STARFISH


SEA URCHINS
Sea urchins are ball shaped marine animals, covered with moving spines. Stepping on or touching sea urchins may be very irritating to humans. Sea urchins are common along all coast lines, world wide. Wear boots whenever possible when walking in shallow waters.
SEA URCHIN PUNCTURE FIRST AID
Immerse the wound in hot water to relieve pain. Remove any visible pieces of spines. Do this very carefully in order to avoid breaking any of the spines in the skin. Do not dig around in the skin to remove broken pieces. Wash the wound with soap and water.
See a physician if the wound is severe.
IIJIMA POISONOUS SEA URCHIN
TRUMPET SEA URCHIN
NATPIN SEA URCHIN

CONE SHELL
Several species of cone shells are very dangerous. Cone shells have poisonous stingers which inject venom through puncture wounds. In some cases, the sting may cause death. Do not touch or pick cone shells up. Be careful when walking in shallow waters.
CONE SHELL STING FIRST AID
Wrap the wound with a piece of cloth or gauze without affecting blood circulation, then get the victim to a hospital as quickly as possible.
CLOTH OF GOLD CONE
GEOGRAPHER CONE
PEARLED CONE

These are just a few of the dangerous underwater creatures. Divers are advised to study further on their own.

First aid techniques will differ by country, from species to species. For example, the potency of a box jellyfish sting in Japan may differ from a box jellyfish sting in Australia, and therefore, treatment may differ. Also, the same stings may affect people differently. For one person, a sting from a jellyfish may be just a little more than an irritation. For another, the same sting may cause a serious emergency situation.
When planning a dive trip abroad, study up on the species of local creatures, and consult local professionals before diving.