Dangerous reef organisms
 
Dangerous reef organisms hot buttons for dangerous reef-organisms section of BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website hot button for irritating chemicals section of BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website hot button for bites section of BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website hot button for sharp spines/bristles section of BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website hot button for poisonous flesh section of BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website hot button for stings section of BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website

There aren't many Caribbean-reef orgnanisms that will kill you dead, but there are certainly quite a few that can hurt you. CLICK ON an icon to learn about what you should avoid.

NOTE it goes without saying that a good and careful SCUBA diver will be swimming well above the reef and will not be touching anything. For this reason, most dive-boat operators frown on their customers wearing gloves

 
 
title icon for Bites section of BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website

Bites

Anything with jaws or claws has the potential to bite but, if you keep your hands out of crevices, you're likely to be a lot safer than if you don't. Most moray-eel bites recorded in Hawaii and other areas of the Pacific come when spear-fishers get careless, and an angry and dying eel wriggles up the spear and starts biting. Sharks, moray eels, and barracudas look vicious, but they are not...just give them their space.

 
 
 
seahorse dive leader for BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website photograph of barracuda close taken from a video "So, what about all the bad guys that bite, and rip and tear…like barracudas, sharks, and morays?  Well, it can happen, but don’t wait for it!  Most things will leave you alone if you leave them alone" - Turneffe Island, Belize. Video courtesy Andy Stockbridge, Belize
 
 
photograph of a channel clinging crab in a cave Channel clinging crabs have powerful claws, but are slow-moving and not a danger to divers except under unlikely circumstances.  photograph of channel crab

Channel clinging crab
Mithrax spinosissimus

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photograph of portunid crab Portunus sebae In contrast, portunid crabs are lightening fast and have sharp, serrated pincers.
Ocellate swimming crab Portunus sebae 0.8X.
Note the modification of the last pair of
walking legs into flippers for swimming
 
 
treatment for crab bites

photograph of a portunid crab Portunus sebae
1. the treatment for crab-pinchings is simple: an underwater equivalent of opening your mouth and screaming as loudly as possible.


 

 

 

Portunus sebae with one claw missing 0.6X

 
 
 
seahorse dive leader for BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website photograph of moray eel taken from a video

"Whoa!…this is a face only a mother could love! All the snarly mouth-opening in morays is just their way of ventilating their gills, and they're really quite shy" - Turneffe Island, Belize. First video courtesy Andy Stockbridge, Belize.

NOTE this one is a spotted moray Gymnothorax moringa

 
 

photograph of a green moray Gymnothorax
Beneath the scary demeanor of a moray is a shy recluse.  Still, it is not wise to provoke a moray.  Its ragged dentition and behaviour of rolling the body while it bites can inflict ragged, hard-to-heal wounds.  Overall, aggression from large reef fishes is non-existent if divers keep their distance, move slowly, and keep their hands out of crevices. 

 

 

 

 

 

Green moray Gymnothorax funebris 0.6X

 
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