Beach-Goers Beware!

 Our oceans are filled with magnificent life and wonders untold. The beauty and majesty is something everyone should venture to experience at least once in their life. However, the ocean also holds dark secrets and creatures that are harmful to humans and other animals. A few examples are:





  • Have venomous spines
  • Lives mainly in deep water reefs and caves
  • Has colorful stripes and fancy fins 
  • Can be aggressive and sting
  • Symptoms include: headache, nausea, confusion, and fainting 






  • Have venomous spines
  • Lives in coral or between rocks
  • Is splotchy red or brown
  • Raises thick dorsal spines when threatened
  • Symptoms include: severe stinging, rashes, swelling, blisters, headaches






  • Have venomous spines
  • Lives in both freshwater AND saltwater
  • Gray colored with “whiskers”
  • Stings usually occur when people lose their grip when removing it from the hook
  • Symptoms include: swelling, numbness, fainting, and sometimes reduced heart rate






  • Has venomous barbed tail
  • Lie half buried in sand on sea bottom. Remember to shuffle feet when wading into water
  • Can be different colors, but all have barbed tail
  • Can cause painful and jagged wound if stepped on or threatened
  • Symptoms include: sweating, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and chest pain 


Sea Urchin:



  • Has venomous spines
  • Lives in variety of places, but can be found on wave-exposed rocks and coral reef 
  • Commonly black in color, but can be dull shades of green, brown, purple, and red 
  • Spines can be very hard to get out if touched
  • Symptoms include: numbness and swelling that extend far beyond the wound


Fire Coral:



  • Has stinging cells 
  • Lives in coral reefs 
  • Can be mustard-color, tan, or brown with white tips 
  • Stinging cells stick to skin and must be removed 
  • Symptoms include: burning pain and red rash within 5-30 minutes of contact




© Hans Hillewaert



There are also several different species of jellyfish that live in our oceans. They range in size from tiny to more than three feet in diameter. Some jellyfish have tentacles that extend to 50 feet or more. While most jellyfish do not actually sting, Florida has several species including the Moon Jellyfish, Upside Down Jellyfish, and the Sea Nettle, that do sting. Contact with tentacles can cause red, raised streaky welts that last from 1-2 weeks and can cause severe pain, tingling, itching, and nausea. Did you know that even if a jellyfish's tentacle has broken off, it can still sting you? That's right! The tentacle does not have to be attached for the venom to be released! Do not play with or touch a jellyfish, even one that is washes up onto the shore. A dead jellyfish is just as dangerous as a live one!


More Information About Stings


  • Leave the water immediately if you are stung and call 911 if you are having trouble breathing.

  • DO NOT use lemon juice, garlic, athletes foot spray, head lice medicine, Epsom salt, bleach, gasoline, or other”remedies”. Please call 1-800-222-1222 for treatment advice, as most stings can be treated at home.

  • DO NOT try to removed spines or tentacles by hand. Use tweezers or the edge of a credit card to “shave them off”.

  • DO ask the lifegaurd to display a purple flag, notifying other beach goers that there is “Dangerous Marine Life”.

  • DO ask your doctor for treatments if you get a deep or jagged wound while diving. You might need a tetanus shot.



Some things to keep in mind....


“Swimmers Itch” or more commonly known as “Sea Lice” is a common rash irritation caused by several different factors. Baby jellyfish secrete stinging cells, which lay in bathing suit lines and can also get into hair. Be sure to wash ALL bathing suits thoroughly and the itching should go away on its own. Flatworm parasites typically live in birds and snails but sometimes the larvae can dig into skin and cause intense rash, and can last up to 14 days. Algae is another big factor when it comes to skin rashes. The algae that is caused by Florida's red tide causes skin rash, sneezing, watery eyes, and coughing.


For more information about venomous creatures or “Sea Lice” and ways to treat them please call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or visit www.floridapoisoncontrol.org.




Photos Courtsey Wiki Commons. CCO. 


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