Top 6 Most Dangerous Marine Life you will encounter on a Tropical Reef.

When we travel to a tropical destination, we often face dangers like untreated tap water, dengue and malaria from mosquito bites, or extreme sun exposure. However, scuba divers also face risks while scuba diving. Diving in different environments can present unique hazards, particularly when it comes to marine life. 

We’ll discuss five common tropical marine life injuries – how to prevent them and treat them once you’re injured. 

Please bear in mind that we are not replacing professional medical treatment in this article. 

If you are seriously injured, you should seek medical treatment.


pink jelly fish

Many tropical marine life creatures sting and jellyfish are among the most common. The response varies from individual to individual. Most often, reactions will be numbness, itchiness, or severe pain. It is even possible to die from some particularly potent stings. Toxins are released whenever the skin comes into contact with jellyfish tentacles, which have microscopic barbs. Divers should be cautious around transparent items that float around them.

In some cases, even broken-off tentacles washed up on shore can release toxins if they are stepped on. 

That is why we always offer to wear a full-length wetsuit or rash guard to help protect vulnerable body areas.

Do not rub a sting wound, as this will intensify and possibly spread the infection. Instead, rinse the area with household white vinegar. Salt water should be used to rinse tentacles after removing them with tweezers and gloves.

A hot pack (or hot sand) of around 113 F (45 C) can also help reduce pain.

A physician may prescribe painkillers, anti-inflammatory medications, and topical anaesthetics.



Knowing your surroundings will help you avoid coral scrapes, which are widespread tropical marine life injuries. Excellent buoyancy control is also crucial here. While a full wetsuit or dive skin may protect your skin, it should not be used to compensate for lack of buoyancy. Getting close to corals and reefs when photographing subjects puts macro photographers at risk. Tenderness, redness, swelling, and inflammation are all signs to watch for.

Itching, burning, and pain can be symptoms of scrapes, depending on their severity. The area should be cleaned immediately with soap, water, and vinegar if coral scrapes you. 

To prevent further inflammation and infection, coral scrapes should be cleaned as soon as possible. When you touch a fire coral, apply hot water or a hot pack, around 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius). An antihistamine cream or an anti-inflammatory cream will be prescribed if irritation persists.

In Indonesia, gentamicin cream is often used against fire coral burns.



Sea urchin spines are often venomous in addition to causing puncture wounds. Scuba divers and snorkelers may experience pain, burning, numbness, and swelling if they touch or stand on an urchin. Infection is also a risk if not treated properly.

 You will reduce risk by avoiding touching urchins or anything on the reef or getting close to them while diving.

Be careful when moving through surf zones near rocks, and wear booties when shore diving. In the event of an urchin sting, elevate the injury, remove the spines with tweezers, rinse the area with antiseptic lotion, and clean it with antiseptic cream. By soaking the wound in hot water, you can break down any spines in the body.

Seek medical attention for more complicated infections and apply an elastic bandage.


Stingray komodo

Fortunately, stingray injuries are pretty rare among scuba divers. Snorkelers and swimmers walking in shallow water near the shore are at greater risk. People who step on stingrays usually suffer injuries to their feet and lower legs. Depending on the individual, pain can be severe if stung. Victims may require shock treatment. With tweezers, remove any foreign bodies and stingray spines from the wound by rinsing it in salt water. To stop bleeding, apply a dressing and soak for 90 minutes in hot water. After that, wash the wound with soap and water. Since stings can be fatal if taken in the torso region, more severe cases will require hospitalization.


lion fish komodo

The best way to prevent lionfish stings, as well as the other hazardous marine animal injuries we’ve discussed, is to prevent them in the first place. Keep lionfish at a distance and practice proper buoyancy control. The majority of stings reported by Caribbean divers this year were caused by spearing the non-native lionfish. Divers involved in spearfishing or containment activities in the Caribbean should receive proper training and, in some areas, licenses.

Any of the animal’s 18 venomous spines that puncture your skin will usually cause intense localized pain and throbbing. It is crucial to calm your breathing and response in this situation, slow your ascent rate, and ascend safely to the shoreline or boat.

When first aid is applied, tweezers are used to remove the spines. It is important to take care when removing or disposing of broken spines, as even broken spines may contain venom. Fresh water and disinfectant should be applied to the wound, and antibiotic cream should be applied if possible. In case of bleeding, use a direct-pressure bandage. For about 30 minutes, soak the injured area in hot water around 113 F (45 C) to relieve the pain and break down the venom and toxins. Hot packs will be available on site at many dive operators involved in lionfish containment activities.

Blue Ringed Octopus

blue ringed octopus komodo


With their amazing iridescent blue rings, these octopuses live in small cracks and crevices on the sea floor. They also hide around the Pacific and Indian Oceans coral reefs. The blue-ringed octopus looks relatively normal; however, it shows its true colours when it feels threatened. It is a warning sign that the blue-ringed octopus is upset when you can see its blue rings almost pulsing. The blue-ringed octopus has an extremely dangerous neurotoxin called TTX (tetrodotoxin). A harmful neurotoxin with over 1200 times the potency of cyanide, this substance is extremely dangerous. Even the slightest scratch can be deadly to this octopus despite its potency. Due to its lack of anti-venom, blue-ringed octopuses are one of the most dangerous marine animals. 

This neurotoxin starts by paralyzing the body, leaving you aware and alert but unable to do anything about it. Once the body becomes paralyzed, the lungs stop, so immediate treatment is vital. Usually, the patient is put on life support until the effects of the toxin diminish.

When it comes to injuries to aquatic creatures, prevention is always better than cure, so avoid getting too close to marine creatures. Be aware of your surroundings, practice excellent buoyancy control, and avoid touching anything underwater. However, victims should always seek medical attention after performing first-aid on stings and spines stuck in the skin because they can lead to infection or tissue necrosis.

If you want to practice more buoyancy, we advise you to start your Advanced Open water course or the Peak Performance Buoyancy, one of the best PADI courses for recreational divers.