Marine Animal Bites
6-4. Marine (Sea) Animals
With the exception of sharks and barracuda, most marine animals will
not deliberately attack. The most frequent injuries from marine animals
are wounds by biting, stinging, or puncturing. Wounds inflicted by
marine animals can be very painful, but are rarely fatal.
a. Sharks, Barracuda, and Alligators. Wounds from these
marine animals can involve major trauma as a result of bites and
lacerations. Bites from large marine animals are potentially the most life
threatening of all injuries from marine animals. Major wounds from these
animals can be treated by controlling the bleeding, preventing shock
giving basic life support, splinting the injury, and by securing prompt
b. Turtles, Moray Eels, and Corals. These animals normally
inflict minor wounds. Treat by cleansing the wound(s) thoroughly and by
splinting if necessary.
c. Jellyfish, Portuguese men-of-war, Anemones, and Others.
This group of marine animals inflict injury by means of stinging cells in
their tentacles. Contact with the tentacles produces burning pain with a
rash and small hemorrhages on the skin. Shock, muscular cramping,
nausea, vomiting, and respiratory distress may also occur. Gently
remove the clinging tentacles with a towel and wash or treat the area.
Use diluted ammonia or alcohol, meat tenderizer, and talcum powder. If
symptoms become severe or persist, seek medical aid.
d. Spiny Fish, Urchins, Stingrays, and Cone Shells. These
animals inject their venom by puncturing with their spines. General
signs and symptoms include swelling, nausea, vomiting, generalized
cramps, diarrhea, muscular paralysis, and shock. Deaths are rare.
Treatment consists of soaking the wounds in hot water (when available)
for 30 to 60 minutes. This inactivates the heat sensitive toxin. In
addition, further first aid measures (controlling bleeding, applying a
dressing, and so forth) should be carried out as necessary.
Be careful not to scald the casualty with water
that is too hot because the pain of the
will mask the normal reaction to heat.
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