Marine Life Hazards

SCUBADOC Diving Medicine Online

Cone Shells

Cone shells (Conus sp.) are numerous, comprising about 70 species. About seven of these species are dangerous to man. Beautifully patterned and colorful, the cones are carnivorous gastropods that inhabit shallow intertidal waters of coral reefs and come out at night to do their hunting. They eat worms, fish, other gastropods and octopuses, immobilizing their […]

Beachdiving Stingray Injury

Beach entries can be hazardous from several points of view. Not only is the entry difficult due to water action but there is another danger that is difficult to prevent, particularly if you back into the surf in a proper fashion. That is a stingray injury. It is not too difficult to recognize what has […]

Diving in Polluted Waters

The Problem Over the past ten to fifteen years the diving population has become sensitized to the potentially hazardous presence of pollution in the sea. The ocean has been a traditional dumping ground for many types and degrees of pollutants. Several years ago a Los Angeles Times article indicated that 2000 U.S. beaches were closed […]

Marine Wound Infections

Marine infections can lead to cellulitis (redness and swelling), erysipelas (red streaks from infection in the lymph channels) and necrotizing soft tissue infections (bacterial digestion of the tissues). Cellulitis and erysipelas are relatively easy to treat while necrotizing soft tissue infections are difficult and require surgical intervention in most cases.Infections caused by a mixture of […]

Underwater Predators: Sharks

What do you think of first when you think of sharks? Fearsome, big teeth, of course. Sharks, however, have many other interesting features that make them stand out from other denizens of the sea. The main difference from other fishes is that their skeleton is made from cartilage rather than bone. This cartilage makes sharks […]

Underwater Predators: Sea Snakes

Sea snakes are air breathers probably descended from a family of Australian land snakes. They inhabit the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific and are highly venomous. Thirty-two species have been identified in the waters about the Barrier Reef in Australia. They seem to congregate in certain areas in the region about the swain Reefs and […]

Underwater Predators: Large Grouper

Grouper have several sets of teeth, placed in the mouth to act as raspers or holding teeth. The fish gulps down its prey using these raspers to prevent the smaller fish from escaping. The teeth are not used to tear or slash, as with barracuda or sharks.Personal experience with a large Nassau grouper (“Herbie”) on […]

Underwater Predators: The Moray Eel

There are 80 or more species of eels of the family Muraenidae. Moray eels occur in all tropical and subtropical seas. They live in shallow water among reefs and rocks and hide in crevices. They differ from other eels in having small rounded gill openings and in generally lacking pectoral fins. Their skin is thick, […]

Underwater Predators: Great Barracuda

The barracuda is any of about 20 species of predatory fishes of the family Sphyraenidae(order Perciformes). Barracudas are usually found in warm, tropical regions; some also in more temperate areas. They are swift and powerful, small scaled, slender in form, with two well-separated dorsal fins, a jutting lower jaw, and a large mouth with many […]

Ingested Toxins while Diving

PARALYTIC SHELLFISH POISONING This derives from dinoflagellates contaminating shellfish (clams, scallops, oysters, etc.). The toxin, saxotoxin, is water soluble, heat and base stabile, and is therefore not affected by steaming or cooking. It inhibits sodium channels of excitable membranes, blocking propagation of nerve and muscle action potentials. Symptoms: These usually occur within 30 minutes, and […]

Injected Toxins while Diving

CONE SHELLS Phylum Mollusca, Class Gastropoda, Family Conidae. These cones possess a detachable, dart-like radicular tooth or muscular proboscis. The venom is complex composed of two or more substances, one neuromuscular (causing sustained contractions), the other inhibits nerve excitability. Symptoms: Small puncture wound with localized ischemia (blanching), cyanosis (pale, bluish color), and edema (swelling). Severe […]

Contact Irritants and Toxins

SPONGES Phylum porifera is the most harmless. Three species produce contact dermatitis, including the red-beard sponge (Micronia prolifera), fire sponge (Tedania ignis) and poison-bun sponge (Fibulila sp.). Of the 5000 species, only twelve are thought to be toxic. Symptoms include: erythema (redness), arthralgias (joint pain), and edema (swelling). Treatment: symptomatic with soothing lotions and topical […]
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