While most people think the most dangerous thing in the ocean is a shark, this is not the case. Any time a human enters the water whether it be swimming, snorkeling, or diving we are entering other species habit and could potentially be disrupting them. When doing these activities we make sure not to touch anything, but sometimes accidents happen and marine life uses their defense mechanisms as a result. While not all marine life can cause harm, there are some species we need to be on the lookout for.
Being one of the most common marine life injury, jelly’s can be found in many places around the globe. While jelly stings are common, the degree of the sting depends on the species of the animal. The sting can also depend on where on the body was stung, the amount of stings, the amount of surface area, the duration of contact and much more. What causes the sting? On a jellyfish’s tentacles there are cnidoicytes, which have stinging capsules called nematocytes.
This nematocytes can effect the prey two different ways, either by a sticky mucous or acting like a needle penetrating and releasing the venom. If a person gets stung, a doctor can determine what kind of jellyfish stung them by looking at the sting itself. For example a Portuguese man-of-war jelly leaves a long line of blisters or a box jelly which leaves multiple interlaced long lines with a sticky substance. If you were unaware you got stung common symptoms include: intense increase stinging, Arrhythmia, Pruritus, and necrotic ulcers. Treatment of these sting are applying vinegar or acetic acid for 10 minutes, steroid cream, oral antihistamines, and pain control.
There are 80 out of 6,000 species of sea urchin that are thought to be venomous. Sea urchin’s have two different defense mechanisms. The first one being that they embed their broken spines and inject their venom. The other way is taking their organ that is found on the outside of them, and acting as teeth biting down on their prey. Even when the organ is detached from the urchin itself, it still is workable. The pain last for several hours after the attack. Symptoms include: swelling, partial paralysis of the effected area, collapse, cardiac arrhythmia, and facial swelling. Treatment: Soaking swelled area with hot water, removal of spines, analgesics, and possible surgery if effected joint, nerve, or tendon.
Sea snakes are commonly found in tropic and temperate areas, and there are 50 known species. They are about 3-4 ft long, but have been seen up to 9ft. They are attracted to moving objects, and could target swimmers, divers, etc. Sea snakes could be mistaken for regular snakes that have found their way into the water, but sea snakes have a flat paddle shaped tail. The venom is 2-10 more venomous then that of a cobra, but cannot release that much because of the size of their mouth. They are capable though of delivering enough venom to kill 3 adults. About 25% of people bitten will show symptoms which are: nausea, swelling of the tongue, paralysis, cardiac arrest, convulsions and in the worst case death. Treatment: pressure to wound, sea snaked venom used cautiously, hospitalized.
These are just a few of the potentially dangerous species to look out for while in the water. Although not everybody comes in contact with a dangerous animal in the ocean, it does happen. Being aware of your surroundings and the types of species that is around you is a great way to prevent events like this form happening.