There many poisonous creatures lurking in the world’s oceans today. Some only cause discomfort and minor health problems but others cause major complications and eventually death. Many of these creatures don’t have antivenin developed to cure victims injected with their poisons. Also, the most poisonous creatures have the best disguises and hiding places. Many times you won’t see them or know you have been bitten until it is too late.
Located in the shallow waters of tropic reefs off the islands of the Indo Pacific, Southeast Asia and the northern coast of Australia, the fire urchin packs one heck of a punch. It is known for its fire red color and stinging spikes, however this sea urchin also has the ability to bite.
Each spike has sacs containing enough lethal venom to cause paralysis and death within minutes. When the spikes are touched the sacs rupture, injecting venom into the victim. Along with the spike, the fire urchin has jaws among the normal spikes. These jaws will latch on to the victim injecting even more potent poison into the system of its unsuspecting prey.
The venom attacks the nervous system leaving the victim in agonizing pain as it shuts down with paralysis. There is no known antivenin and it has been known to kill humans.
This poisonous creature has claimed more than eighty human lives in the last one hundred years. Although there are over 30,000 species of jellyfish, the box jellyfish is the most toxic and unique from the rest. This is the only species of jellyfish that has twenty-four eyes in groups of six at each of the four corner located at the top of the bell. In each of the four sets, it has two eyes that are human like enabling it to hunt and stalk its prey. Generally, it drifts through the water but is able to make quick 180 degree turns and jet off toward its victim.
The largest box jellyfish is often called a sea wasp. It has sixty tentacles measuring up to fifteen feet long creating a poisonous web for anything crossing its path. Once the tentacles of touched the flesh of its victim, millions of microscopic needles inject its lethal poison into the system. In a matter of minutes, the venom will stop the lungs from breathing and eventually cause the heart to stop.
It is located in many tropical and subtropical waters and found close to shore where many people like to swim. It will attack without warning and the pain from the venom is excruciating.
Blue Ringed Octopus
For such a small creature, it hits the top of many lists for being one of the most poisonous creatures. There are two species of blue ringed octopus. The larger of the two is the Hapalochlaena lunulata measuring eight inches. The second species, the Hapalochlaena maculosa barely weighs an ounce and is more common. They get the name, blue ringed octopus, because you can only see the blue rings right before it attacks.
Venom is transferred from the saliva to the bite wound and is known to penetrate a wet suit. The venom is so potent that it can kill twenty-six humans with one drop from its saliva. Once the venom is in the victim’s system, the victim’s eyesight becomes hazy and ultimately becomes blind. Nausea is another quick symptom along with losing your sense of touch, and being unable to speak or breathe. Within approximately three minutes paralysis sets in and your lungs begin to shut down. There is no antivenin available only a treatment of artificial respiration and heart massage while the venom naturally works its way out of the victim’s system.
The blue ringed octopus is mostly found along coastal waters of Japan and Australia. Although its diet is primary crab and shrimp, it is known to attack humans as well.
Olive Sea Snake
Out of all the serpents in the ocean, the olive sea snake is the most toxic. Although rarely does it bite humans unprovoked, a single bite from this snake is able to kill over twenty people. This snake venom is complex. It contains neurotoxins that destroy the nervous system as well as myotoxins which attack the muscular system. This causes paralysis and eventually death. This complex venom is injected by small, hollow fangs.
Many people do not realize they have been bitten at first. However, early symptoms include headache, sweating, vomiting, and extreme thirst. These symptoms evolve to muscle stiffness and tiredness. Within three to eight hours, the victim’s muscles will begin breaking down. Because of the repercussions to muscle breakdown, the victim will eventually go into cardiac arrest in approximately six to twelve hours after being bitten.
This snake will hunt the waters of Northern Australia and Southern New Guinea during the day and night. It also must breathe air so it comes up to the surface regularly thus making contact with humans inevitable.
This is another poisonous creature located in the coastal reefs of the Indo-Pacific waters. It can blend in easily with its surroundings. It resembles a rock found on the ocean floor and is also know to hide under the sand completely.
It injects poison upon contact with spikes along its dorsal fin. This venom causes agonizing pain and rapid swelling upon injection. Other symptoms include muscle weakness, paralysis, and shock if left untreated. The severity of the symptoms depends upon how much venom was injected. The more spikes penetrating the skin means the more venom that will be injected in the victim’s system.
There is antivenin available if the victim can reach a hospital in time. Having the victim soak in a warm bath has been known to decrease the severe pain caused by the venom.
Marble Coned Snail
Many people are lured to this snail by its beauty, but looks can be deceiving. People tend to pick up the marble coned snail to admire it not realizing that it will sting with its venomous, harpoon-like tongue. Located in the Indo-Pacific regions, this creature is considered the fourth most deadly creature in the world.
Its venom can cause extreme pain, swelling, vision loss, paralysis and eventually death due to respiratory failure. These symptoms can surface immediately upon injection or be delayed by a few days. There are only thirty recorded human deaths associated with the marble coned snail. There is no known antivenin available however the victim can be kept on life support until the venom works its way out of the system.
The next time you are diving in coastal waters or simply out for a relaxing day at the beach be more aware of the dangers that lurk under the water. Being alert and observant can make the difference between life and death.