The ocean or sea as we know it covers about 71 per cent of Earth’s surface and is home to a variety of known and unknown creatures. According to scientists, around 226,000 ocean species have been found so far. While many of these aquatic creatures can be admired, some should be totally avoided. Giant water monsters such as sharks and crocodiles are not the only ones to avoid. There are tiny creatures with lethal venom that can paralyze or kill you in a matter of minutes. They aren’t all aggressive, though. Some are gentle and won’t attack you as long as you let them be, while some others are hostile and would sting you if they feel threatened by your appearance.
Among the 226,000 ocean species discovered, some have been labelled the most dangerous sea creatures and should be avoided. Let’s examine some of them.
The lionfish, also called zebrafish or firefish, is a beautiful venomous marine fish with a colorful skin of red and white stripes with black bands, usually found in the Caribbean or Eastern Atlantic. It has distinctive spines covering its whole body and contains venom that can inflict severe pain, cause vomiting, and cause difficulty breathing. A human being stung by the lionfish can also experience diarrhea, heartburn, headache, and numbness. The lionfish is a great predator and often poses a threat to divers and anglers. One notable fact about the lionfish is that it stings only to defend itself; it won’t lie in ambush ready to poke you. If you are diving in the lionfish’s region, you should admire this beautiful creature from afar.
Sea snakes are highly venomous. Just a drop of their toxic venom is capable of killing a human being. Sea snakes are mostly found in warm coastal waters; tropical waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are part of the cobra family and are sometimes mistaken for eels. They have compressed bodies and an average length of two meters. These creatures also breathe oxygen and vary from non-aggressive to aggressive. In all the about 30-50 different species of sea snakes available, the hydrophis platurus species has a stronger and more lethal venom than any terrestrial snake in the world. Although not many, some deaths have been recorded. Most sea snakes are not quick to bite and would likely hide from humans. However, it would be best not to get too close to them.
The cone snail is an extremely venomous sea creature mostly found in the deep reef waters of the Indian, Pacific oceans, Caribbean, and Red seas and along Florida’s coast. It has a 10-15cm length and a colorful patterned shell that makes it look innocent, but don’t be fooled; a single drop of its venom is enough to kill 20 people. Though not an aggressive creature, the Cone snail has hollow teeth for injecting lethal venom into its prey. There are more than 600 cone snail species around the world. However, those found in the indo-pacific region have been observed to have more potent toxins than others.
The stingray is a flat, disk-shaped creature with fins that resemble wings, commonly found in tropical and subtropical ocean climates. It has a deadly sting that is commonly reported as beachgoer injury. The stingray has a long, thin, and tapered tail with one or more barbed spines at the end. The barbed spines are covered by a sheath, and each spine contains deadly venom that can cause bleeding, extreme pain, fatigue, low blood pressure, nausea, muscle cramps, abdominal pain, necrosis, diarrhea, discoloration, dizziness, swelling, headache, vomiting, and other systematic reaction or respiratory distress. There are about 220 species of stingray around the world, and the Australian bull ray, one of the largest species of stingrays, was responsible for the death of the world-famous “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin on the coast of Australia in 2006. The stingray is a gentle creature and will only sting when stepped on or threatened. The stingray burrows beneath the sand in the ocean, so if you are a diver or swimmer, make sure to watch your step.
The barracuda is a predatory saltwater fish notorious for its aggressiveness and can be found mainly around coral reefs in tropical and subtropical oceans around the world. It is a ray-finned fish with a large, long body size, fairly compressed and covered with little smooth scales. It has fanged teeth and a prominent, recognizable nose shape with pointed heads that gives it an underbite. The barracuda can travel about 27 miles per hour (43 kilometers per hour) when attacking prey. Some barracuda species may reach up to 1.8 m in length and have a width of about 30 cm. The barracuda sometimes mistake divers for large predators and follow them in the hope of feeding on the remains of their prey. Some species like the Great Barracuda that live in brackish water and some other known species are also dangerous to swimmers or divers. There have been reports of the barracudas attacking divers though these attacks are sporadic.
The stonefish is the most venomous fish in the world and can be found in rocky or muddy bottoms of marine habitats in the Indo-Pacific oceans. It has a body-color of brown with orange, yellow, or red patches textured to resemble the surrounding rocks or corals, which serve as excellent camouflage. With a body length of 30-40 cm, the stonefish has 13 spines lining its back that releases venom under pressure, but it will only use its spines defensively, NOT offensively, meaning the fish won’t go out of its way to attack you. However, if you accidentally step on a stonefish, it will pop up its dorsal spines and release venom from two sacks at the base of each spine. The more toxin that is injected, the worse it is for you. The venom of a stonefish can cause terrible pain, necrosis (death of tissue), swelling, and even death. Most commonly, swimmers step on these fish, pushing the venom into the bottom of the foot. Sometimes, stings also result from swimmers picking these fish up in the water or even on the beach. If you find yourself in the stonefish territory, make sure to look carefully at where you are placing your feet, and if at all you get stung, there are some pretty effective antidotes available.
The blue-ringed octopus is a deadly small octopus species found in tide pools in the Pacific and Indian oceans. It has yellow skin with blue and black rings and weighs around 30 grams. The blue-ringed octopus also measures 2.5 inches in length, with arms measuring up to 4 inches long. It has a deadly venom that can kill over 20 humans within a few minutes, making it one of the most dangerous animals. A bite from the blue-ringed octopus can cause chest tightness, weak muscles, numbness, headache, sweating, nausea, dizziness, loss of vision, excessive saliva production, paralysis, and discoloration. However, it is extremely rare to get bitten since the blue-ringed octopus won’t bite unless provoked or threatened. It also hides during the day and is active at night. Another essential thing to know is that if the blue-ringed octopus bites you, you may not feel the bite itself until after 10 minutes when you start feeling the effect of the venom, which may cause drowning if stung in deep enough water. According to a 2008 study, there are just three human deaths on record.
The Box Jellyfish has no sharp teeth, or visible mouth yet has caused more deaths in Australian oceans than sharks, snakes, and saltwater crocodiles combined. It tops the list of the world’s most dangerous sea creatures. It has a pale blue and transparent body that makes it almost invisible in the ocean. It is commonly found in Australia or tropical South East Asia. Compared to other jellyfish, the box jellyfish can swim and see (with clusters of eyes on each side of its box-shaped body), meaning it can hunt for prey and move faster in the ocean. The Box Jellyfish has enough venom to kill up to 60 humans and can kill you within five minutes. However, their menu consists of small fish and shrimp, not we humans. If you plan to dive or swim in the box jellyfish region, we recommend using a sting-protector suit like the Hydroskin suit from Fourth Element.
There’s no denying that our ocean is home to a diverse range of fascinating species, from massive monsters to microscopic worms. New ocean species are discovered every year, with some scientists estimating that there are between a few hundred thousand and a few million more aquatic critters to find. The more sea animals discovered, the more we will comprehend them and know which ones to avoid as divers or swimmers. We’ve gone over some of the most dangerous sea creatures, including their venomous nature and whether or not they’re aggressive. So, If you’re a diver or swimmer, keep an eye out for these species.