Marine Creatures to be Aware of

In the last list of marine creatures to be aware of, we talked about sharks, sea urchins, box jellyfish, sea snakes and stingrays. Those were already a handful and so I saved up the rest of the list for this entry.

The importance of this is to be aware of what creatures you’ll encounter when you’re scuba diving, why they are dangerous and how you can avoid them or treat the damage they can cause you.

So without further ado, here’s the rest of the dangerous marine creatures:

Puffer FishPuffer Fish – If only this fish was as kind as Bloat in Finding Nemo, but it’s not. This fish is known to contain enough toxin that it can kill 30 people. The sad fact about it is that there is no known antidote, what one can only do is support the respiratory and circulatory system until the poison wears off.

What’s very ironic is that this fish is considered a delicacy in Japan, so if you have a loved one that’s been a victim of this fish, go ahead and eat one for revenge.

Stone FishStonefish – This fish is known to be the most poisonous fish in the world. It’s also good in camouflage that people accidentally get too close to it. This fish has 13 spikes on its back that contains an extreme venom. If not treated, it can cause death to a person in hours. Be aware of this fish because not only is it good in camouflage looking like rocks but it usually hides in coral reefs and can be found at the sea bottom.

Whoops! Wrong picture

Whoops! Wrong picture

Got it right

Got it right

Catfish – No matter how good they taste and how crispy they can get, these fishes can be a potential danger to humans. When it feels threatened, it puts out spikes that contain venom and cause severe pain. Though very rare, there have been cases that death has been caused by such. Catfish venom still remains in them after a few days, so if you’re planning to cook one, be aware and cautious and handle it with care.

Blue Ringed OctopusBlue Ring Octopus – Though these creatures are small, they are known to be the deadliest sea creatures ever known. They will attack anything, even humans, when provoked. Their poison is enough to kill 20 people or more in minutes. Their venom can cause paralysis and respiratory arrest. Again, there is no known cure for it.

Cone ShellCone Shell – No matter how attractive these may be, be careful before you pick them up. These are snails that have teeth like harpoons where venom passes through. Such venom’s symptoms are pain, swelling and numbness and, in some cases, can lead to death.

Lion FishLionfish – These fishes have long poisonous spines that are deadly to a variety of marine creatures. Though not known to be deadly to man, it causes severe pain, headaches and vomiting. They don’t attack people unless provoked but if you get stung by one, soak the affected area in hot water and immediately get medical help.

These are some of  very dangerous marine creatures known to man, but we should always remember that we are more dominant than them because we have the brains to keep ourselves safe.

Always remember to be alert and cautious. Seek medical help immediately when needed. Never, ever provoke such animals because most of the ones listed here will only attack when they are provoked.

Marine Creatures to be Aware of

Though a lot of people are seasick, one can relate the seas to calmness, serenity and peace. But there’s a different set of rules once you go under these “calm” waters. The game will change – right there and then you’re immersed in an environment with unfriendly marine folks around. You have to play by their rules.

So for your Scuba Diving knowledge here are some of the marine life creatures you should be well aware of:

SharkShark – The most common of all sea animals that people dread. But if you want to be more specific, it’s the Great White Shark that’s truly feared. (Don’t know the Great White Shark? Refer to JAWS) But what we humans aren’t really aware of is that sharks don’t really attack people, unless provoked.

Yes they do bite off peoples limbs, or tear their arms, or if possible, eat the whole person up, they don’t, like I said, attack humans unless provoked and most of its species do not attack humans at all. A good tip for us is to stay away from shallow waters because this is where sharks feed. This is the reason why people get attacked because they do not mind the warnings given to them, so always heed such warnings.

Sea urchinSea Urchins – The usual “attack” from a sea urchin is where one walks in water and steps on one. It’s good to know that almost all sea urchins are not venomous except for one – the Flower Urchin, which can be deadly.

Contradictory to its usual look, the Flower urchin is covered by flowers instead of thorns but they are very dangerous which can cause paralysis and even death. But what’s really a sucker with sea urchins is that their stings really hurt badly. There are even instances when the sharp spines pierce to deep in the skin that they break. These cause severe pain and infections and sometimes need to be removed surgically.

Box jelly fishBox JellyfishThe most dangerous jellyfish known in the world. They have at least 60 tentacles that can grow up to 5 meters long. These tentacles are so poisonous that any human being coming into contact with these can die in just hours if not treated.

But people die not because of the sting but because of the shock the poison brings, wherein such stings lead to cardiac arrests. The Box jellyfish are very numerous especially in the seas of Australia and its surrounding countries. The Box jellyfish, like normal jellyfish, are translucent making them difficult to spot.

sea snakesSea Snakes – These snakes are usually found in warm waters. They usually attack when provoked. These snakes are very venomous and if not treated immediately can cause cardiac arrest in hours. Their bites usually go unnoticed, that’s why always be alarmed. Sea snakes are usually found in shallow waters wherein they are still close to land.

sting rayStingrays – Nobody was really aware how dangerous these creatures were until the sad death of the famous Steve Irwin. These creatures normally run away when they sense humans but attacks when provoked. The best tip for humans is to slide their feet through the sand rather than walk because once you step on a stingray, it will ferociously attack you.

That’s it for this batch! These are alerady a handful for this entry.

There’s another batch of Marine Life creatures you have to be aware of, but i’ll save that for the next entry – so watch out for it!

How to avoid dying from deadly Jellyfish

For the previous post, we talked about certain kinds of non-lethal jellyfish. As for this post, we’ll be identifying the kinds of deadly Jellyfish that you don’t want to meet when you’re down under the sea and what to do if ever you get stung.

It might look pretty until it gets to you

Box Jellyfish - It might look pretty until it gets to you

The Box Jelly – It’s also known as the Sea Wasp or Chironex Fleckeri. It’s found off the shores of Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. This marine animal has a boxy bell head the size of a basket ball, 4 parallel brains [one on each corner], 24 eyes and 60 arseholes.

There are 5,000 deadly stinging cells on each of its 10- 60, two meter long tentacles. They are usually a problem from October to May. They are the most toxic creatures on Earth. These are the symptoms of an attack of the Box Jelly:

–       Severe pain

–       Headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

–       Skin swelling/wounds/redness

–       Difficulty breathing, swallowing and speech

–       Shivering, sweating

–       Irregular pulse/heart failure

irukandji jellyfish

irukandji jellyfish

Irukandji jellyfish – Irukandji jellyfish are very small, with a bell about one centimeter wide and four tentacles, which range in length from just a few centimeters to up to 35 cm in length. The stingers (nematocysts) are in clumps, appearing as rings of small red dots around the bell and along the tentacles. They are found in Australia.

They are known as Irukandji jellyfish because they cause symptoms known as Irukandji syndrome (a condition that is induced by venomization that is seldom fatal, but if immediate medical action is not taken, within only 20 minutes the victim could go into cardiac arrest and die). They are usually a trouble from November to May, though recently they have been recorded present in all months except July and August. The most common known jellyfish of this type are Carukia barnesi and Malo kingi. Symptoms of an attack:

–       Lower back pain, intense headache.

–       Muscle cramps and shooting pains, nausea, vomiting.

–       Catastrophically high blood pressure.

–       Restlessness and feeling of impending doom.

–       Death from heart failure or fluid on the lungs.

Of course we won’t leave you with just these symptoms of death and doom. So here’s what you should do when you get stung by one of these deadly Jellies:

–       Rinse the area with sea water. Do not scrub or wash with fresh water which will aggravate the stinging cells. Do not pour sun lotion or spirit-based liquid on the area.

–       Deactivate remaining cells with a vinegar rinse before removing them; otherwise inactive nematocysts may be triggered. If no vinegar is available use urine – but NOT for Box jelly and Irukandji stings. Ask a mate for a golden shower! Really! Preferably male urine as it’s considered to be more sterile

–       Lift off any remaining tentacles with a stick or something similar.

–       If cells still linger, dust with flour and carefully scrape off with a blunt knife.

–       After all tentacle sections have gone, pain can be treated with a cold pack and/or a local anesthetic such as a sunburn lotion or insect bite treatment that lists ‘ocaine’ as an ingredient.

–       If there is continued swelling, or itchiness, apply a light steroid cream e.g. Hydrocortisone eczema cream.

–       If muscle spasms persist see a doctor.

Some additional treatment for the Box Jelly.

–       Use pressure-immobilization on limbs if possible. e.g. quickly wrap a light bandage above and below the sting (if you can’t get two fingers under the bandage, it’s too tight).

–       Immobilize/splint the stung area and keep it at heart level [gravity-neutral] if possible. Too high causes venom to travel to the heart, too low causes more swelling.

–       Do not drink alcohol, or take any medicine or food.

Now that you’ve read all these information, I believe it’s still best to remind ourselves of these basic yet very helpful guidelines.

Box jellyfish stings. Nasty!

Box jellyfish stings. Nasty!

–       Take extreme precautions if you have an existing heart condition as Jellyfish deaths are normally attributed to cardiac arrest [or pulmonary congestion]. You are in great danger from the Toxic Boxes’ venomous sting unless treated immediately as the pain is so excruciating that you may go into shock and drown before reaching the shore. So swim with a partner if possible.

–       Avoid swimming in the October-May high-jelly season.

–       Wetsuits or Lycra ‘stinger suits’ offer good protection especially the sophisticated models with hands, neck and head coverage. Feet may be covered by fins or swimming shoes.

–       Take notice of warnings! Bathing areas prone to toxic jellies may have safety signs.

–       Keep your eyes peeled when swimming in areas where the more dangerous variety live (though Irukandji jellyfish are very small and barely visible to see, so accomplish first steps first before relying on this one).

With these in mind and heart I believe you will be able to achieve a more wonderful and wary diving experience. Make sure that you have a healthy heart, because that is the organ that is directly affected by Jellyfish venom. Cardiac arrest is mostly the cause of death by jellyfish. That’s why Will Smith died in the movie 7 Pounds, not because he was electrocuted by some jellyfish (whoops, spoiler alert… haha).

Jellyfish are wonderful creatures, and they will treat you wonderfully too if you treat them and their habitat in the same manner.

“Peanut Butter and Jelly… fish?” The ‘harmless’ kinds of Jellyfish

Moon Jellyfish

Moon Jellyfish

We’ve always thought of jellyfish as very calm, light, soft, and friendly sea creatures with their beautiful features perfect enough to be an addition to the serene ambience of the home. That you’d just want to catch one the way Spongebob would do in Jellyfish Fields with his trusty old net, and not receiving any retaliation from the jellyfish.

Sadly, most jellyfish aren’t as angelic as those in Spongebob.

You might be thinking “Well not all jellyfish sting.”

Here’s a newsflash for you: THEY ALL DO. But you’re not completely wrong since not all jellyfish are aggressive.

And for this entry, we’d like you to know the types of jellyfish that are somehow friendly.

Translucent Moon Jellies – These are the harmless and the quite common jellyfish that we see. They do not actively sting you, but the threadlike tentacles around their body can sting. Although it’s not sharp enough to pierce our thick skin.

Purple Jellyfish – These jellies that can grow up to 40 cm only has a few tentacles that can sting albeit slightly. So don’t be afraid when you see them.

Purple Jellyfish

Purple Jellyfish

The Mushroom Cap Jellyfish – These jellyfish has deep bell-shaped bodies that do not have tentacles. They’re creamy white in color and they get darker towards the sturdy “tentacle” structure at the bottom. The good news is that they are not hazardous to people.

It’s inevitable that jellyfish do sting. Cause, that’s just who they are. So always be careful when you encounter one, expect that there’s always a possibility for you to get stung.

As a scuba diver, you’ll never know when you get to meet one – being surrounded by lots and lots of different marine creatures. Like I always say, better safe than sorry.

For our next entry, we’re going to cover the lethal, killer-types of jellyfish. Now those are the ones you better look out for.

Diver awareness: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Disaster

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill is one of the worst man-made-disasters this year

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill is one of the worst man-made-disasters this year

On April 10, 2010, a wellhead exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. People died, others were hurt, damage was done, and twelve days later, oil began to gush out from the broken wellhead. Two months later, oil continues to spill at an estimated 6,000,000 gallons per day. The oil has spread wide enough that NASA can get a visual of it in space.

Extreme efforts have been taken into account to put an end to this disaster. The British Petroleum, the company that was held responsible for the explosion, is leading the current attempts to contain the dispersing oil. Actions involving burning of the oil or applying oil-dispersing chemicals has been of assistance, but it’s not productive enough to counteract 6 million gallons of oil flowing out on a daily basis.

As of early June, thousands of animals within or near the contaminated areas have been found dead. This includes sea turtles, dolphins, many species of birds, and even more species of sea creatures. Environmental experts are saying that the oil spill hit at the worst possible time of the year since there are many animals that are currently breeding and nesting, and that their young can contract fatal diseases if born near the oily waters.

I know lots of people who have no idea of how serious this catastrophe really is. And that’s probably because they are not experiencing the consequences that it has caused. Humans live on land. The oil spill is happening in the oceans. For scuba divers, who spend a considerable amount of time in the oceans, this isn’t really much of a problem at all. Choose an oil-free dive spot, and chances are, things will go smoothly. Scuba divers in the Philippines and Palau aren’t even aware of the problem. But in my opinion, that is a selfish way of thinking.

The oil spill even affected birds

The oil spill even affected birds

I’m sure that there are many divers out there who really care about the oceans, who really feel the gravity of the situation. I am certain that, to some, diving is not just for fun, it is a ritual of the continuity of life. I am certain that, to some, the ocean is not just a diving destination, it is a second home. And if there are land-dwelling people out there who feels pain in a disaster far from land, then how much more does the ocean-dwelling creatures feel the pain in a disaster that’s directly affecting them?

Remember that, to the sea creatures, roaming the seas is not just a daily ritual, but a necessity for the continuity of life. Remember that, to the sea creatures, the ocean is not just a second home, it is their home. The Gulf of Mexico is labeled as an environmental disaster, which means that it is a disaster that is caused by human activity. Though we take part in suffering from this through the damage done to the fishing industry, why should the ocean take the full toll for a mistake they had nothing to do with?

The oceans have recovered from much worse oil spills, and if the plans of containment are improved and consistent, I’m sure that it will recover from this one, too. When that time comes, I hope that scuba divers all over will have a better awareness, a better understanding, and a better appreciation to what trillions of fish call “home.”

The Thing About Sharks and Scuba Diving

Shark Attacks are not common

Shark Attacks are not common

It’s not something you’d want to piss of when you’re deep down under. Because if you do, it can take a huge chunk out of you. Hell, it can even end your life! It has a face personified by terror. It may sound like I am talking about Miley Cyrus, but I am not. Today, we’re gonna learn more about sharks and how not to end up in their gastric system.

Why fear Sharks?

Hum with me for a sec. “Du Rum. Du Rum. Du Rum Du Rum DU RUM DU RUM!” Sounds familiar? It should sound familiar. The release of the movie Jaws in 1975 largely contributed to a common fear of sharks. But is that fear justified and rational? Let us observe some facts as we try to answer this question.

There have been a recorded total of 2200+ shark attacks in the last 430 years. That’s an average five shark attacks per year. You have a better chance of getting hit by lightning or running into a sober Lindsay Lohan or hearing Sarah Palin say something intelligent. Out of those five shark attacks annually, only one of them is usually fatal. Statistically, it is more dangerous to be careless in a bathtub than to go diving with sharks. Did you know that it is illegal for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs in Arizona? Just sayin’.

Though there are 360 species of sharks that roam the seas, only four of them are frequent to engage in physical and violent contact with human beings. These four are the tiger shark, the bull shark, the whitetip shark, and the great white shark. Decide to dive in areas without these species and you can start worrying more about those damn lightning bolts.

Has the media exaggerated the potential dangers of sharks? Yes, people do die from shark attacks, but have you ever wondered what the opposite has to offer. Did you know that humans kill millions of sharks each year? The Philippines contains 20 of the world’s most endangered sharks.

How can we be safe without being dangerous?

If Chuck Norris was a scuba diver, and if he was attacked buy a shark, the shark would end up being attacked by Chuck Norris. That is not right. Scuba diver, remember that we are only visiting the oceans, the home of the sharks. To prevent fatalities on both sides, we must learn how maintain peace while diving. You don’t have to have Mr. Norris on speed dial to feel safe.

Sharks usually feed themselves by night. Go diving at nighttime and the chance of you seeing the sunrise might become a bit less bright. Ask yourself, “Would I go skydiving in the middle of a fog?” Of course you won’t. So would you go scuba diving in murky waters where you can’t see the potential predators around you? Of course not!

Next: Avoid wearing anything shiny because it attracts sharks.

Also: if other sea creatures start to flee at the same time, flee with them because sharks may be nearby.

And now for my final thoughts, I give you the most obvious ones. It is bad for the scuba diver to bleed in the seas. Like politicians, Sharks can smell innocent blood. Once an injury has been sustained, get out of the water. For the women, I type this in all sincerity and seriousness. If your beautiful uterus is feeling “weird” on the day of scuba diving, my friendly advice is that you skip your diving plans and take a quiet and safe nap. I shall leave it at that.

It would become a great pleasure for me if this post contributed in making the ocean a better place both for humans and sharks. It is said that the more you know about something, the more you can get along with it. And so, I end this post with a quote from a guy named Dave, who gives a great insight on the nature of sharks.

“Sharks are as tough as those football fans who take their shirts off during games in Chicago in January, only more intelligent.” –Dave Barry

Plastic Soup

sealHave you ever heard about “the Asian Trash Trail”, “the Trash Vortex” or also called the “the Plastic Ocean”? These are terms for a heap of debris, compressed by the oceans currents, floating in the Pacific with twice the size of Texas.

There are hundreds of sources from scientific reports, rousing movies and desperate posts with information about this “Giant Floating Human Mess” (a term by, yours truly, Karin Timmel) on the web. Here are some facts in a nutshell:

–      According to National Geographic more than 200 million tones of plastic are produced each year of which about 10% ends up in the oceans.

–      About 20 percent of it is from ships and platforms, the rest from land.

sea-turtle-deformed–      About 44% of all seabirds eat plastic, apparently by mistake, most of the times with fatal effects.

–      267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage already.

–      An enormous number of fishes and birds are dying after eating tiny plastic morsels mistaken for prey.

But that’s not all! The major problem is that the big plastic items do not degrade like natural materials. In the ocean and on the shore under the influence of sunlight, wave activity and mechanical abrasion they simply break down into even smaller particles. This pollutes the oceans and a huge amount of turtle-eats-plasticmarine life suffers and an even bigger marine population dies. And as we are the last in the food chain, we are definitely experiencing the consequences of our actions.

The first time I started thinking about this topic was when scientists sent us an enquiry to hire one of our vessels for a deeper research. And for sure, we will rent them our boats and support plastic in oceanthem as best as we can. Our company provides drinking water from dispensers, we also try our best to convince our customers to refill their bottles and recycle plastic bottles on all our boats – because we care. And I care! Therefore I’m sending out information again and again, that’s why I’m posting links as much as possible and that’s the reason  why, every time  I drink up a bottle of water, I take my own cotton shopping bag and make sure I throw my trash at the right place.

One person can’t change much about anything – I’m pretty aware of that –  but if everybody just cares a little bit we can at least save the marine littermates of the generations we killed before. And I’m sure if you think about it, you will know what to do … or not to do.

“Plastic is not the enemy, but it’s our understanding of disposal and reuse that’s to blame.” (De Rothschild, National Geographic)

Expedition Fleet makes sure that our liveaboards discourage the harming of marine life through improper garbage disposal. We love to let people see the beauty of the deep and so we do our best to preserve that.

Some interesting links:

–      http://www.plasticoceans.net/

–      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/08/090820-plastic-decomposes-oceans-seas.html

–      http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/oceans/pollution/trash-vortex

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