If humans didn't have enough to worry about while on land, whether it be wild animals, diseases or at our own hands, it's another world when you're in the water and on the turf of some of the most brutal sea creatures. After watching this installment, you may think twice before suiting up to take a dip in uncharted waters.
Before we get to this next entry, let us first say that Australia is a beautiful place to visit, should you get the chance. Of course, there are 1001 different things trying to kill you, like the Box Jellyfish, an invertebrate that is recognizable mostly by its cubed shape and extremely toxic attributes. Along with its presence in Australia, the box jellyfish can also be found in the Mediterranean, parts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and off the coasts of New Zealand and South Africa. Once a sting has been determined, typically done so via sudden agonizing pain, it’s imperative to move quick and remove any tentacles still stuck in the skin. Box Jellyfish are responsible for some recorded 5,500 deaths in the past 50 years, mostly from cardiac arrest.
Though we may not immediately associate crocodiles with oceanic life, if you ever question their presence in salt water, just ask anyone from Southeast Asia, the eastern coast of Africa, and Australia. Poor Australia – as if they didn’t have enough to worry about in their waters already. These deceptively fast reptiles can grow to a length of 17 feet or 5 meters and can weigh up to 2,200 pounds or 1,000 kilograms. Their large size, abundance of numbers, and deadly jaws make this Crocodylus a threat to just about anything that crosses its path, humans included. When talking about deaths, Saltwater crocodiles attack roughly 30 people per year, 50% of which are fatal attacks. When we talk about all species of crocodiles though, the numbers are a little more frighting. Take for instance, the Nile Crocodile, which is responsible for attack between 275 and 745 people a year, 63% of which are fatal.
Aren’t they just cute? Don’t you want to take it in your hand and snuggle with it? Go ahead, give it a shot, though chances are you won’t live through the encounter. Puffer Fish may look adorable when they’re all peaceful and calm, but when agitated or threatened, they expand into a spine-covered defensive ball. While the meat is a delicacy in Japan, Puffer Fish are highly toxic, so much so that they’re believed to be the second-most poisonous vertebrate in the world. The Puffer is equipped with tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin found within this adorable creature’s organs. A small dosage of the neurotoxin can shut down a persons respiratory system, killing them with a tiny, but fatal amount. Although deadly attacks in the water are rare, that doesn’t stop the puffer fish from killing people. Remember how we said the Puffer Fish was a delicacy in Japan? Well, roughly 5 people die every year because of improper cooking techniques, and in 1958 alone, some 176 people made the Puffer Fish their last meal.
Can you believe that there are people out there that actually pet and swim freely with these underwater terrors? In the grand scheme of things, as scary as most sharks look, they nowhere near live up to what you see in the movie Jaws. People may not be the preferred meal for sharks, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been known to take a bite here and there. Statistically, lightning strikes kill roughly 40 people a year, while all species of shark kill between 2 and 15 people annually, most of which are from the Great White.
The first thing you think of when hearing stingrays and human deaths in the same sentence, you probably think of famed Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. Stingrays are rather docile creatures when it comes to humans, meaning they don’t seek out and attempt to kill us at first site. The 2 to 3 recorded deaths annually come from the lack of respect for the creature. In almost all cases, deep-sea divers are swimming with them, attempting to pet them as if they were a household cat, only to take a barb to the chest or other vulnerable area such as the neck or stomach. As we know with fluffy felines, there are times that you shouldn’t pet them, and they’ll let you know by taking a bite out of your flesh. Most bites are non-fatal, as they are generally to the feet when an unexpected swimmer steps on them in shallow water.
Textile Cone Snail
Conus textile, the cloth of gold cone, textile cone – these pretty names aren’t quite what you’d expect to be associated with one of nature’s deadliest sea snails, but they most certainly are. This beautiful underwater dweller is an aggressive predator, venomous to a degree that should have you shivering in your wet suit. Its radula delivers enough venom to kill its prey, allowing it to feast without much hassle. When it comes to human handlers, the snail is a bit more defensive and will sting to ensure its survival. The sting of the Conus textile is known to have killed roughly 15 humans on record, but it is likely one of the least expected deadly animals in areas like the Red Sea, New Zealand, the Indian Ocean, the French Polynesia, and, you guessed it, Australia.
In the coastal regions of the Indo-Pacific, swims a fish that is both deceptive and deadly. The stone fish, as the name would have you think, can look like an innocent rock at the bottom of the sea floor, but stepping on this synanceia will do more than just cause you to stub your toe. The venom of the stone fish causes an extremely painful and potentially fatal reaction, though treatment can be as simple as applying hot water, no lower than 113° F or 45° C, to the affected area. Stone fish are not aggressive, but can be easily overlooked due to their stone-like look when stationary. Humans rarely die to this creature, only 5 or so have been recorded. This is likely due to the fact of low interaction, and in most cases where people fall victim, they are treated right away.
Blue Ringed Octopus
The Blue Ringed Octopus is another beautiful display of nature’s sense of humor. Adorned with gorgeous rings of blue, this octopus is both tiny and deadly. Topping out at around 8 inches or 20 centimeters in length, the blue ringed octopus packs enough venom to easily kill a person, actually, enough to kill 25 people. The initial bite is typically painless, leaving symptoms like paralysis as the only indication of the venomous bite. After intoxication, the steps for survival are complicated, as paralysis and respiratory failure are imminent. Attacks are rare, with only 3 recorded human deaths, but that’s enough for many beaches in Australia to post warning signs.
Ranging from 7 to 9 meters or 23 to 30 feet long, and tipping the scale of 6 tonnes, you’d think the killer whale would be responsible for many human deaths, right? Ironically, there has never been a recorded death by a wild orca, so why are they on our list? As it turns out, this water beast can pose deadly when held in captivity. To date there has been 4 Killer Whale related deaths at marine-themes parks, such as SeaWorld.
Belcher’s sea snake
Why did it have to be snakes? It’s bad enough that we need to worry about crossing paths with any number of venomous snakes on land, we also have to worry about accidentally swimming into a Hydrophis. In most species of sea snake, bites are rare, but when they do occur paralysis and cardiac arrest are among the possible outcomes. Most sea snakes are not naturally aggressive, but like their land-based brethren, it only takes an accidental disturbance for a good day to go bad. Ironically, there are no recorded deaths from a Belcher’s sea snake, at least that we could find, which may have you scratching your head as to why it’s on this list. Truth be told, only about 25% of bites from this snake possess venom, which the vast majority are to fisherman emptying fish nets, where anti-venom is generally close by. So why is this snake on this list? Well as it turns out, many references claim the Belcher’s sea snake is the most venomous in the world, as estimates show a single bite could kill 1,000 humans.