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Top 10 Most Dangerous Marine Life

The sea takes up over 70% of the world’s surface area. With that said, there are a number of species which can be extremely dangerous to swimmers, snorkelers, freedivers and SCUBA divers. Scientists have calculated that there are over 1200 dangerous species in the sea with over 50,000 people getting injured per year. So before you jump in, here are the top 10 most dangerous marine creatures that you should be aware of.

Here are the top 10 Most Dangerous Marine Life

  1. Flower Urchin
    All scuba divers have come across sea urchins before and unfortunately for some, they have experienced their extremely sharp spines, especially in areas that they wish they hadn’t. However, the Flower Urchin or Toxopneustes Pileolus is in a whole different league when it comes to defense mechanisms. Known as the ‘world’s most dangerous sea urchin’ by the Guinness Books of Records, you do not want to find your bare feet or hands anywhere near this echinoderm.This beautiful urchin is armed with a potentially deadly venom containing two toxins; the first toxin is Peditoxin, a protein which can cause a series of anaphylactic symptoms such as shock, inability to breathe and even death. The second toxin is Contractin A, an extremely harmful neurotoxin, which causes the smooth muscle in your body to spasm. The venom is delivered through its flower like structures, which gives the urchin its name. These flower like structures are known as pedicellariae. Once a pedicellariae has come into contact with your skin, it breaks off still attached to the skin and continues to pump this deadly poison into its victim. The bigger the pedicellariae, the more potent the venom.
  2. The Textile Cone Snail
    These absolutely beautiful snails are one of the world’s most toxic creatures. Don’t be fooled by their attractive shells, these small snails are armed with tiny harpoons, formed from modified teeth. These harpoons are hollow and contain a deadly neurotoxin, which have been known to penetrate not only human skin, but also through wetsuits and gloves. The cone snail’s venom is so deadly that only a single drop is capable of killing 20 men. The cone snail’s neurotoxin is highly specific and only affects certain nerves within the body. The amazing thing about this deadly toxin is that the diver may feel localized pain, from the penetration point of the harpoon, however will not have any life threatening symptoms for a few days after the sting. However for some, rapid paralysis of the respiratory system can occur soon after the sting and death, soon after that. Even though they are highly dangerous, they have only been to blame for very few deaths over the years.
  3. Leopard Seal
    The leopard seal is named for its beautiful spotted coat, however it does have the same kind of aggressive nature as the leopard. With its highest position at the top of the food chain, this seal is located in the Antarctic and is one of the biggest seals recorded throughout the southern oceans. Weighing up to 600 Kg, you wouldn’t want to get caught in a close proximity of one of these creatures. With their enormous jaws lined with the sharpest of teeth, these mammals have an appearance more like reptiles than seals.With their regular diet consisting of sea birds, fish and penguins, they have also been known to kill humans.
  4. Stone Fish
    With its grumpy appearance and its incredible camouflage, it really is the most venomous fish on the planet. The stone fish is armed with 13 incredibly sharp spines, which blend with its surrounding environment. Stone fish do not only have to live in the sea, they can also last for up to 24 hours outside the water. These creepy fish live along the sea bed, just waiting for some poor soul to step on them. The venom of the stone fish is found in the spines and is not only dangerous but also extremely painful. The majority of people who get stung by the stone fish, usually get stung on their feet and although it is on a different level to painful, those who are unlucky enough to get stung on the body can be in serious trouble.The neurotoxin produced by the stone fish can be fatal, causing respiratory paralysis and potentially heart failure. In severe cases, getting urgent medical care is the best action. Due to a large amount of people being stung by this intriguing creature, there is an anti-venom which means that no one has died from a stone fish sting for the past 100 years.
  5. Box Jellyfish
    Found off the coast of northern Australia and South East Asia, these cube shaped jellyfish have a number of venomous stings throughout their tentacles. The large ‘Sea Wasp’ has been known as the box jellyfish to have the most lethal sting. This species of box jellyfish have caused over 60 deaths in Australia alone. Scientists believe that each individual sea wasp contains enough venom to kill 60 fully grown adults. The time between the sting and death is extremely short, with cardiac arrests occurring within 5 minutes. Unfortunately, once you have been stung, the tentacles remain attached and continue on stinging after they have been removed from the water.There is an anti-venom, however it is not as readily available in some areas where the sea wasp is usually located. The pain from the sea wasp is excruciating and has been likened to being branded with a hot iron, with the pain getting worse and worse over time. It has been reported by some individuals that the pain can become so intense that some beg for their legs to be cut off.
  6. The Barracuda
    Barracuda can measure up to 6 ft long and are armed with lines of needle-sharp teeth. Barracuda can move through the water like a torpedo and are adept enough to inflict some serious harm. There are over 22 species of barracuda, however there is only one which has been known to attack and even kill humans, the Great Barracuda.Barracuda are attracted to shiny things which vaguely resemble small fish. Many divers carry equipment that shines such as dive knives and whistles. These objects can be mistaken for their prey fish. These attacks on humans can be brutal and leave the individual with deep wounds, sometimes resulting in nerve damage and a severe loss of blood. Barracuda have also been known to jump out of the water and cause damage to people on boats. One recent report was in Florida and happened to a canoeist. She was found fighting for her life after suffering with a punctured lung and broken ribs, all caused by a barracuda attack. As well as having unbelievable strength and needle-sharp teeth, some species of barracuda have a dangerous toxin in their skin, known as ciguatera toxin. Symptoms from this toxin can last for months and can be extremely harmful.
  7. Saltwater Crocodile
    The saltwater croc is both deadly on land and in water. The largest members of this species have been measured around 25 ft long and have weighed nearly 2 tons. The saltwater croc has the most powerful bite on the planet, 10 times more powerful than that of a great white shark. Along with their formidable jaws, they have also been known to move through the water at great speed, reaching up to 18 mph. However, on land they are not so fast.Saltwater crocodiles are found in Australia, Southeast Asia as well as far west India. Over their lifetime, they have been known to swim great distances with people spotting these beasts as far as Fiji and New Caledonia.In Australia, there are roughly 2 attacks by saltwater crocs on humans a year.
  8. Blue Ringed Octopus
    With their incredible iridescent blue rings, these octopuses tend to spend most of their time in small cracks and crevices around the sea bed. They also camouflage themselves around the coral reefs of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The blue ringed octopus looks relatively normal, however when it feels threatened that is when it shows its true colors. As beautiful as the blue ringed octopus is, when you can see the blue rings almost pulsating, then this is a warning sign that the octopus is not happy.The blue ringed octopus has an extremely dangerous neurotoxin known as TTX (tetrodotoxin). This dangerous neurotoxin is over 1200 times more potent than cyanide. Due to its potency, even the slightest scratch from this octopus can be deadly.Unfortunately, there is no anti-venom for the blue ringed octopus and this makes this marine animal all the more dangerous. This neurotoxin starts by paralyzing the body, leaving you totally aware and alert, but unable to do anything about it. Once the body becomes paralyzed, the lungs then stop, so immediate treatment is vital. Normally, the patient is put on life support until the effects of the toxin subside.
  9. Sea Snake
    There are a number of species of sea snake found in the tropical waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is believed that the sea snake has evolved from the land snake, developing a large lung on the left hand side of its body, which nearly takes up the whole length of the snake. Similarly to their land cousins, the sea snake is highly venomous.Sea snake venom is much more potent than that of the land snake. This is not surprising as their daily diet consists of fish which move fast through the water. This highly toxic venom works by immobilizing their pray, preventing them from swimming away and even harming the sea snake. Sea snakes have small mouths and even smaller fangs however, they are still capable of penetrating a wetsuit.The good news about sea snakes is that they are extremely shy and tend not to be as aggressive as land snakes. Generally, if a sea snake takes a bite at you, it is likely to be a dry bite, meaning that there is no venom released. However if you are unlucky enough to get a venomous bite, then not to worry, there is an anti-venom.
  10. Sharks
    It is no surprise that sharks are the most dangerous predators roaming the oceans. With their rows of sharp teeth and their powerful bodies, they are certainly capable of inflicting severe damage. With over 400 species of shark, there are only a small amount which pose any real threat to humans.Most commonly known as the most dangerous shark in the world is the ‘Great White Shark’. These killing machines can measure up to 25ft long and weigh over 3 tons. Reaching speeds of up to 35 mph, it is pretty difficult to get away from these beasts. Statistically speaking, the great white shark has a record of 400 attacks throughout the world, with around 20% of those attacks proving fatal.With that said, there are also a number of other sharks which are extremely dangerous. The Bull shark has a slightly higher kill rate of 25%. The bull shark can not only live in saltwater, it also has the ability to live in freshwater. Bull sharks, along with tiger sharks also tend to be less particular about what they eat. Whereas the great white shark attacks seem to be purely down to mistaken identity, the bull shark has been known to consciously attack humans.

What do you think?  Are they really that dangerous?  Let us know in the comments below.

Jennifer Palmer
Jennifer Palmer
Diving since I was 13 years old, I am currently a rescue diver working towards my Dive Master qualification. As well as diving, I am also a freelance writer and a professional baker, with my own recipe blog Jennifer's Cakes.