Marine creatures are among the most fascinating organisms on the planet and most sport divers dive with the intention of observing marine life in their natural environment. Most marine animals are not aggressive towards humans and most injuries humans sustain from marine creatures are from passive defense mechanisms.
Although there are over 1000 species of marine animals that can cause injuries to humans however they can be classified into 5 main categories.
- Venomous Bites
- Minor cuts, lacerations, abrasions.
There are many marine animals that have the ability to bite, and they can be potentially dangerous depending on the size of their bite. Animals in this class range from sharks, barracudas, seals, sealions, moray eels, orcas. The bites of these animals are not venomous but are traumatic, potential leading to massive blood loss, shock, loss of tissue and death.
There are a range of marine creatures that can puncture with spines and other similar structures. Many of these mechanisms are coupled with a venom. Animals in this class range from stingrays, cone shells, spiny sculpins, sea urchins and segmented worms. The mechanisms used to puncture often are coated with a slimy protein coating that causes pain. The venom associated with these type of wounds can also cause pain, shock, collapse, respiratory arrest and death.
Animals that inflict injuries with stings usually include jellyfish, sea anemones, hydras and some coral. They inject toxins by means of nematocysts, microscopic trigger mechanisms that are like tiny harpoons located in the tentacles or other body parts. Sting symptoms range from prickly or itchy sensations, burning or painful welts, headaches, cramps paralysis, collapse and death.
4. Venomous Bites
Similar to the marine creatures that can puncture, there are a group of marine creatures that have venomous bites. Examples of these creatures include the blue ring octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish and sea snakes. Most of these creatures pose almost zero threat to divers unless disturbed. However in order to be aware the symptoms of envenomation include muscle weakness, paralysis, collapse, respiratory arrest and death.
5. Minor cuts, lacerations and abrasions
The most common marine life injuries are cuts, scratches, abrasions and lacerations. They usually occur with accidental contact with corals, barnacles and other marine creatures with calcium shells or forms. These injuries are minor however they can be slow to heal and have the potential for infection.