Every good diver knows when you’re underwater, you should keep your hands and fins to yourself! Disturbing corals and marine life can have unintended, but dire consequences to the underwater environment.
Everyone has had a once-in-a-while brush with a reef wall or a critter that is hiding along the sea floor. However, there are some species you should always avoid to ensure you don’t take an unexpected trip to the ER!
Some divers think sharks are one of the scariest creatures underwater. Considering there are fewer than five shark attacks a year involving divers, they’re not necessarily your biggest concern.
You should watch out for the smaller fish, such as stonefish and lionfish. These smaller fish can be secretively camouflaged and retaliate with a vengeance when disturbed! Stonefish can be well hidden and tend to hang out in areas where hands and feet can easily disturb them. Their venom is extremely powerful and can cause extreme pain, swelling, paralysis, shock and even death.
Lionfish, which are populating in the Caribbean and Atlantic waters at a rapid rate, can pack a non-lethal but very painful sting. Some say, “It won’t kill you but make you wish you were dead.”
Read more about how the lionfish is an invasive species in some parts of the world and divers are encouraged to hunt them. Beware, their spines can sting even after they die!
Stepping on a sea urchin with protruding spikes can be painful. Flower urchins not only have spikes, but also produce fatal venom. Consider wearing protective boots to give you plenty of foot protection while diving near sea urchins.
You will have a particularly bad time if you brush up against a Crown of Thorns Starfish. These starfish are found throughout the world, but most common in Australia, and are covered with venomous thorn-like spines that can deliver an extremely painful blow. Think about wearing protective gloves to protect your hands from starfish thorns and spikes.
As a good diver, you know to keep your hands off the coral! However, touching fire coral, which is not actually coral but are in the hydrozoa class, same as jellyfish, can be a mistake that will ruin your dive trip.
Fire coral punches a painful sting that can last for days. Jellyfish to watch out for include the Sea Wasp and the Irukandji. Both of these species can be tricky to spot, and can respond to an accidental disturbance with a lethal dose of venom. Consider wearing protective jellyfish sting lotion to help prevent the stings of most jellyfish.
Above all else, avoid the gorgeous, but deadly, blue ring octopus. Attacks are extremely rare, but this deadly little critter that you can find from Japan to Australia has enough venom to kill a person in 30 minutes.
While there are some deadly sea creatures out there, the above list is by no means an excuse to stick to the surface! The dive community estimates there are fewer than five scuba diving fatalities for every million dives, so chances are that as long as you play it safe, you’re going to be perfectly fine.
The best thing you can do is be aware of your surroundings, control your movements and keep your hands to yourself. By being conscientious and aware, you’ll leave your dive trip with no stings, bites or other ailments, just plenty of good memories! However, in case of accidental stings, you should carry a marine-specific first aid kit like this one from Naui.
Consider taking a first aid/CPR course if you feel you wouldn’t be prepared to help with stings and bites while diving! Scuba Toys offers year-round courses. Visit our shop in Carrollton, Texas or visit us online!
Have you ever had challenges with dangerous marine animals? Let us know what happened in the comments section below!