Management of marine animal bites and stings

Several marine animals can bite and sting. Some can inject venom using their tentacles, teeth, skin or spines. Others such as sharks are not venomous but can deliver serious bites with their sharp, large teeth. Remember though that marine animals that bite or sting developed these behaviors as defense or to help hunt for food. In most cases of marine animal bites and stings, they occur due to accidental contact.

When an individual sustained any marine animal bite or sting, it is best to seek medical assistance right away if the following are present:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty staying conscious
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling around the bite or sting site
  • Spasms
  • Severe bleeding
  • Shock

What are the risks from marine animals?

It is a known fact that there are various marine animals that possess sharp teeth and stingers. On the other hand, only a few have frequent or unsafe interactions with humans. Most of these creatures live in shallow, warm water where many are likely to encounter them.

Marine animal bites and stings

When an individual accidentally steps on an urchin, the spines will break off and embed into the foot, resulting to a sore wound.

Sea urchins

Sea urchins are covered with sharp spines that are coated with venom. When an individual accidentally steps on an urchin, the spines will break off and embed into the foot, resulting to a sore wound. If the spines are not removed completely, the wound can become swollen, resulting to muscle and joint pain along with rashes.


Stingrays have venomous spines on their tails. When an individual accidentally steps on one, it reacts by thrusting its tail into the foot or leg. The spine fragments and venom will increase the risk for infection. The sting can cause nausea, intense pain, weakness and fainting.

Marine animals with tentacles

Anemones and jellyfish have tentacles that are covered with stingers called nematocysts. Most cases of stings can cause rashes and oftentimes blisters. Others experience chest pain, headaches, muscle pain, runny nose and sweating.

Treatment for marine animal bites and stings

The treatment will vary depending on the marine animal that caused the bite or sting. Just remember that there are general rules to observe:

  • Do not allow the individual to engage in any physical activity since the poison can spread all over the body.
  • Do not provide any medications unless instructed by the doctor.
  • Always wear gloves when removing a stinger.
  • Wounds should only be rinsed with seawater since fresh water will only aggravate the venom.
  • Use a towel to wipe off any stray stingers or tentacles.

Remember that some bites and stings respond well to first aid care. In case you do not have a first aid kit on hand, a lifeguard can provide one in case needed. To learn to recognize and manage bites or stings by marine animals, sign up for a course in first aid today.


Only a few marine animal bites and stings are considered deadly, especially the box jellyfish or blue-ringed octopus. Just remember that most of these injuries are not life-threatening. As long as prompt medical care is provided, the faster the bites and stings will heal.