The ocean is home to marine life of all sizes, colors, and shapes, which are all truly unique to anything we can see on land.
Most of these creatures are not likely to harm you at all, and most people who enter the water will never come in contact with anything harmful. However, there are a few creatures you should know about, in case you are ever unlucky enough to come face to face with them.
They might be interesting to look at, but the following marine life are some of the most venomous creatures in the sea… and should be avoided at all costs!
Considered the most deadly creature in the sea, the box jellyfish may be beautiful to look at, but it has enough venom to kill a human in a matter of minutes.
Native to Australia and found in Indo-Pacific waters, the box jellyfish has around 15 tentacles that can reach lengths of upto three meters. Touching these cnidocyte covered tentacles can release a deadly venom.
This venom attacks the nervous system, the blood, and the heart of the victim, and within minutes they are likely to experience intense pain, paralysis, respiratory problems, cardiac arrest, and even death.
In many areas of Australia it is recommended to wear sting suits to protect your skin from deadly jellyfish stings.
2. Sea snake
There are 52 known species of sea snakes and they are all venomous. However, some are more venomous than others and only a few are likely to cause death.
Sea snakes come in various colors and patterns but they are often striped or spotted. Mostly found in the warm waters of the Western Pacific or the Indian Ocean, sea snakes are generally non-aggressive underwater, but are likely to bite if they are taken out of the water. If you keep a distance from them while diving, they are unlikely to try to bite you.
The most venomous sea snake is the Dubois’ sea snake, that can be found around Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Caledonia. They can be found in very shallow waters and although they only have very tiny fangs, they can give a life-threatening bite.
Considered the most venomous fish in the world, stonefish have 13 sharp spines along their back which release a venom fatal to humans.
There are five species of stonefish that can be found mostly in the Red Sea, but also in Japan and Australia. Living up to its name, the stonefish is a master of disguise and is often found camouflaged on rocks and corals.
Stonefish are not aggressive and will not go out of their way to harm a human. However, due to their camouflage, it is easy to accidentally come in contact with one by hitting it with your hand, or stepping on one on the ocean floor. If a human comes in contact with a stonefish, they are likely to experience excruciating pain that can last for days, and might even experience muscle paralysis, heart failure, and death.
To avoid coming in contact with stonefish, wear sea shoes with a thick sole, and avoid touching rocks or the ocean floor while scuba diving or snorkeling.
4. Blue ringed octopus
As small as two inches long, the blue ringed octopus may be adorably tiny, but it is the world’s most dangerous octopus. With a toxic bite of tetrodotoxin, these tiny creatures can kill a human in minutes, or leave them paralyized for upto 24 hours.
There are four species of this octopus which are found in coral reefs and tide pools in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Despite its deadly bite, the blue ringed octopus will only attack if provoked, and only three human deaths have ever been reported from them.
As you can guess from the name, the octopus has blue and black rings on its body and are quite beautiful to look at… from a distance!
Lionfish are quite beautiful to look at, with a white body and a red, or black/brown striped pattern, and feather-like spines that they spread and display when they feel threatened. These spines contain a venom that, although unlikely to kill a human, can cause intense pain if the skin is punctured.
Although they are native to the Indo-Pacific, lionfish were introduced to reef systems along the Eastern Seaboard, the gulf of Mexico, and in the Caribbean sea in the 21st century. It is suspected that people had them as pets and released them into the sea. Because they reproduce rapidly and there are no natural predators of lionfish in these areas, the lionfish has become an invasive species. Many areas in the Caribbean encourage divers to spear them to help keep the numbers down… and they are quite delicious!
6. Cone snail
There are over 600 species of cone snails, and they all secrete toxins that are extremely venomous. A gastropod mollusk, the cone snail is found in warm, tropical oceans worldwide.
The cone snail releases the venom through a long tube that comes out from its mouth when it senses prey closeby. The strength of the venom varies with the species, some might be as mild as a bee sting, whereas others can cause paralysis, blurred visions or even fatality.
Cone snails are quite attractive to look at with intricate patterns and colors. Some are tempted to take them from the ocean to add to their shell collection, not realizing that a deadly animal is living inside. Contact should be avoided at all costs, as even with the use of dive gloves they can still sting.
It is so important when diving to avoid touching anything. Not only can our touch hinder the health of some marine life, it can provoke venomous creatures, which puts you at serious risk of intense pain, or even worse! If you would like to learn more about marine life, why not sign up for the SSI Marine Ecology specialty program? You will learn all about ocean organisms and how to interact with them safely.
Buoyancy is an important skill to have in scuba diving because it can help you to control where you are in the water. Poor buoyancy control can lead you to touch the ocean floor, hit your hands on rocks or venomous sea creatures, or damage habitats.