At Atlantic Seafood Market, we have a passion for providing the freshest, most delicious, and best seafood in Connecticut. While we love serving up our delicious wares to seafood lovers from Old Saybrook and beyond, this post is going to go a bit in the opposite direction. This is your guide to some of the most dangerous and venomous creatures from the sea that you should avoid eating or even getting close to whenever possible.
First up is the box jellyfish, which is one of the most dangerous animals in the world, let alone in the sea. In the past 60 years, more than 5500 people have met their end at the hands of this sea monster’s sting of death.1
Their venom is deadly and extremely fast-acting. Once you’re injected, it will swarm your body and attack many vital organs including the heart, nervous system, and skin cells. It acts so quickly that very few people who are stung ever make it back to shore after being attacked.
The most frequent death resulting from a box jellyfish sting is a heart attack, though death is all but certain in nearly every case. If someone is lucky enough to make it back to shore, they should have the site of their sting coated and pressed in vinegar for 30-45 seconds at bare minimum and taken to a hospital as soon as possible.1
Not only are these stings deadly, but they are incredibly painful as well.
These dangerous animals with a not-so-dangerous sounding name tend to make their homes off the coasts of Australia and Southeastern Asia. If you happen to live in Australia, look out for signs near local beaches that warn of “marine stingers” – they’re primarily referring to the box jellyfish.
While the Blue-Ringed Octopus is very small (rarely exceeding 8 inches in length), the threat posed by these eight-limbed sea dwellers is anything but minute. Their venom is so intense and ample in supply that they can easily kill as many as 30 humans in a matter of mere minutes.2 Without immediate treatment, paralysis will occur followed by certain death. Their venom is especially dangerous because the attack results in little to no pain – you likely won’t even know what bit you until it’s already too late. The good news is that they are not an aggressive species – if you leave them alone, they will most likely leave you alone.
If somebody is attacked and brought to shore, they should immediately have pressure applied to their wound as well as having artificial respiration performed. You need to act extremely quickly, as blue-ringed octopus venom is thousands of times more poisonous than cyanide.2 We’re not talking about a simple bug bite here. Like the box jellyfish, the blue-ringed octopus is mostly found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans off the the coasts of Australia and Southeastern Asia. They can quickly be identified through their yellow-toned skin and telltale black and blue rings. The most common place to find them is in tidal pools and coral reefs, so beachcombers and snorkelers alike must be ware.
The stonefish is not only an extremely dangerous animal – it’s also extremely ugly as well. These guys couldn’t win a beauty contest at a leper colony judged by blind men. While many jokes can be told at the expense of the stonefish, they’re no laughing matter. Their bite causes extreme pain, and pretty much the best outcome you can hope for if one gets you is an amputated limb. In worse cases, shock, paralysis, and finally death will be what the victim faces. In addition to the danger of their venom, the bite of a stonefish is said to be the worst pain known to all mankind.2 Like we said, the stonefish is anything but funny.
The stonefish is not a large animal, usually measuring in at about a foot long.2 They’re quite hard to spot, as their natural coloring gives them a camouflage of sorts, making them nearly indistinguishable from the ocean floor. Once again, this is a species native to the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, especially near the coasts of Australia and Southeastern Asia. (Noticing a bit of a trend here? Be careful where you go swimming…)
The puffer fish, also known as tetraodontidae is considered to be the second most poisonous animal in the world, being beaten out only by the golden poison frog.3 Despite the fact that their skin and many of their internal organs are packed with poison and fatal to nearly all creatures when eaten, their meat, when carved extremely carefully and precisely, is considered to be a high culinary delicacy in Japan.
If someone is to eat one of the poisonous parts of this fish and is not promptly and properly treated, the result will almost definitely be a fatal one. The first warning signs of puffer fish poisoning are a numbing in the lips and tongue.3 After this, light-headedness, dizziness, and vomiting are usually quick to follow. Once the unlucky person gets to this stage, they will soon experience a prickly sensation throughout their body accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and drop in blood pressure. Unfortunately, once you’ve reached this point you’re pretty much a goner as the next step, barring a miracle, will be death. The puffer fish can be found throughout all of the world’s oceans and is equally dangerous no matter where it is caught. In our book, it’s definitely a dish best left unserved.
While there are venomous snakes throughout the world, the sea snake is most definitely at the top of the lethal list. In fact, their venom is infinitely more poisonous than that of a King Cobra. Fortunately, sea snakes, much like the blue-ringed octopus that we mentioned earlier, are passive by nature and won’t go out looking for a fight. Also fortunate is the fact that even when they do bite a human, they usually choose not to inject enough venom to cause death. Nice guys, we guess.
If you sufficiently provoke a sea snake or happen to catch one in an especially bad mood, you can consider your days numbered. There will be an ugly confrontation and only one of you will be swimming away. (Hint: it won’t be you.) These serpents tend to prefer a warmer climate and are yet another dangerous species whose primary habitat is in the waters of the Indian Ocean and southern portions of the Pacific Ocean, though they have been known to stray elsewhere.
With its body decorated with bright black, white, and bright red bands, as well as several venomous spines, the lionfish is a beautiful creature to be sure. However, much like with humans, the most beautiful can frequently be the most deadly. Native to warmer waters, they tend to dwell within the Indian Ocean, southern areas of the Pacific Ocean, and in the Caribbean Sea. They are an invasive species and will quickly kill off whatever they see as competition.2
Their reputation as an invasive species is likely a good explanation as to why they are suddenly being found in increasing numbers within the Atlantic Ocean as well. An attack from a lionfish may not usually be deadly to a human, but it is certainly a painful experience. Just a few of the problems you’ll be finding yourself with if you’re stung by a lionfish are severe pain, nausea, convulsions, and breathing difficulties. Unlike the puffer fish, they can be eaten with a relatively small degree of personal risk, but we don’t plan on ever trying them out unless we’re hit with an INSANELY severe craving.
The final deadly sea creature we’ll be talking about today is the blood clam. The concept of a clam being able to hurt you seems pretty far-fetched, but take our word for it – these clams are deadly. They can’t harm a person through any kind of physical attack like most of the dangerous species mentioned in this article, but when eaten, they can inflict serious harm.
Historically, the blood clam has most commonly been served in China and are still sometimes eaten there as a gourmet treat by adventurous and not-completely law-abiding eaters. Because of their tendency to cause Hepatitis A&E, dysentery, and typhoid fever when eaten, the blood clam has been outlawed for eating purposes in most of China since 1988.4
There are some places on the globe where you can still find the blood clam in restaurants though. In some Japanese restaurants, as well as Japanese-style restaurants here in the USA, blood clams are an ingredient in a kind of sushi called Akagi. If you encounter this on a menu in your eating travels, it is best to refrain from ordering it unless you’re absolutely certain that the clams have been imported legally and cultivated safely. Surprisingly enough, there’s a black market for these clams, so a bit of extra precaution can save you a lot of suffering.
1. “Village Mayor”
10 Most Poisonous Animals in the World
Village of Joy, October 10, 2008
2. Author Unavailable
World’s Most Dangerous Sea Creatures
World Fishing Network, March 28, 2011
3. Author Unavailable
4. Author Unvailable
13 Most Poisonous Dishes You Can Eat