First Aid Notes: Harm Induced by “Sea Monsters”

Poisoning Caused by Marine Life

Sometimes I make light of situations like this by referring to these things as “sea monster injuries”. Sea monsters can give potential victims puncture wounds or toxic reactions depending on what kind of sea monster it is. So of course if it’s something like a jellyfish you’d be more likely to experience the second kind of injury while you’d be more likely to experience the former when getting in a fight with a fish with pointy spines or with sharks and so on.

The following fish also come equipped with a “venom apparatus attached to dorsal or other spines”:


-Weever fish

-Scorpion fish (including zebra fish)

-Toadfish and surgeonfish

Sea snakes have powerful venom as well. Injuries from sea serpents should be treated like normal land serpent (snake) bites. Sea snakes aren’t common in waters that border the United States, but you may live in another area, so they might be more of a problem where you are. My hope is that you would already know whether they are a major concern in your area. You can always ask around just to be safe though.

Shellfish Poisoning Caused by the Ingestion of Sea Monsters

Shellfish poisoning can be related to any of these:

-Bacterial contamination (cook your food, darn it)

-Allergic reactions

-When clams or mussels have ingested “microscopic, poisonous marine animals called dinoflagellates”, which contain “a paralytic type of poison”. The clams or mussels eat the poison critters and you eat the clams or mussels. When trying to avoid this poison, know that “[t]he poison is concentrated in the dark meat, gills, digestive organs, and siphon of the shellfish”.

Symptoms of this paralytic kind of poisoning may include:

-Numbness of the face and mouth


-Muscular paralysis

-Increased salivation

-Intense thirst

-Difficulty in swallowing

This kind of poisoning is treated the same way one treats noncorrosive poisoning:

-Induce vomiting

-Dilute poison (drink water – when this is impossible you might as well try an enema… or call your local emergency services)

-Treat for shock (my notes for shock and seizures are here: )

-Give artificial respiration if necessary

-“Individuals having allergic reactions to scombroid fish (for example, mackerel) or shellfish should seek medical advice regarding the administering of an antihistamine.”

Sea Monster Stings

Jellyfish and Portugese man-of-war discharge venom through threadlike tubes on their tentacles on contact. This venom results in:

-Burning pain

-Rash with small hemorrhages

-Muscle cramps (not a good thing when you’re swimming far from shore)

-Nausea and vomiting

-Difficulty breathing

-Sometimes results in shock

The treatment is to wipe off the area with a towel (preferably a sterile one), wash the area with rubbing alcohol or diluted ammonia, and administer mild pain killers (something like ibuprofen or aspirin – not any strong, over-the-counter drug). Medical attention should be sought when the symptoms are severe.

Stinging coral or fire coral can give a victim multiple sharp cuts in addition to injecting a victim with venom. If this happens you must thoroughly clean the area and promptly seek medical attention.


“The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide” Medical Editor: Charles B. Clayman, MD (ISBN: 0-679-41290-5)

“Standard First Aid and Personal Safety” (“Prepared by the American Red Cross”) (ISBN: 0-385-15736-3)