9 Dangerous Marine Creatures of the Great Barrier Reef and How to Stay Safe in the Whitsundays
One of the Seven Wonders of the World
The Great Barrier Reef is well known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World but did you know it is also home to at least nine of marine life's most dangerous creatures? Lurking just below the surface of the pristine waters of the Whitsundays are some of the most deadly critters of any ocean in the world. Yes, we have deadly crocodiles, sharks, stingrays and even jellyfish that can result in fatal encounters - but rarely do.
Even so, there is much on offer in the north eastern waters of Australia for anyone with a penchant for the sea and the delights below. We have the most enchanting sights under the blue waters of the Whitsundays and the Coral Sea - the reef in all its glory and tropical fish showing off their rainbow colours, but if you are playing in the water you need to be aware of the frightening reality of the dangerous marine creatures that make any living being a potential menu item. Yet this is a veritable playground for those who want to explore above and below the surface of what can be the perfect tropical paradise for the fisherman, snorkeler and diver. It only takes a little research to prepare, keep safe and enjoy one of the greatest wonders of the world.
Enter These Waters At Your Own Risk
9 Dangerous and Deadly Marine Creatures
Before I send you all packing to the inner reaches of central Australia, you know, all desert and little water for sharks or crocodiles, I want to share a little known fact. There is more chance of you being injured in a road accident than anything you may experience in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. For most of the year, and I mean most of the year, the weather sets the scene as a tropical paradise and the colloquial term, beautiful one day, perfect the next is the only phrase you need to know.
But we need to be candid here. The hazards and risks of the reef and waters of the Whitsundays are real but the dangers are avoidable. To be forewarned is to be prepared and the locals will surely give you the heads up - if you dare to ask.
Stingray of the Great Barrier Reef
Need Somewhere to Stay in the Whitsundays?
The Dangerous Creatures of the Great Barrier Reef series has been commissioned by Toscana Village Resort, Airlie Beach Accommodation.
Deadly Creatures of the Whitsundays
The 9 most deadly creatures of the Great Barrier Reef from largest to smallest and not particularly most dangerous are:
Statistics vary from one website to the next. There seems to be little recorded information on the actual deaths recorded from crocodile attacks in the Great Barrier Reef. Deaths, from crocodile attacks occur predominantly in the Northern Territory or the Far North Queensland coast line - not so much in the Whitsunday region.
Shark attacks throughout Australian waters occur at the rate of about 10 per year but not all of these are fatal, especially in the northern waters. Fatal shark attacks are associated with the great white pointer of the southern oceans not the shovel head sharks of the Great Barrier Reef.
Sadly the most recent victim of a stingray attack was the infamous and legendary Steve Irwin. In spite of his risk-taking activities with the Queensland crocodile, it was a chance meeting with a stingray that saw his demise off the coast of far north Queensland.
4. Stone Fish
The Stone Fish is a master of deception. It disguises itself as a grey rock lying dormant as a grey and mottle colour on the reef's floor, not dissimilar to any of the naturally formed rocks of the region. One step on the poisonous barbs can be fatal if help is not within easy reach.
5. Toad Fish
There are so many varieties of toad fish is difficult to know where to start, smooth, banded or black spotted these fish can cause great discomfort. In the Great Barrier Reef stab wounds from their spines are filled with venom but not usually fatal.
6. Cone Shells
The cone shell is like a projector shooting out poisonous darts to anything that causes a threat. Stepping on one of these shells can result in serious injury.
The Irukandji jellyfish is seriously dangerous. The creatures move in from the deeper waters between the months of October and May and create a constant threat to the coastline of the northern Queensland waters. During the period of 1883-2005 there were 70 recorded deaths resulting from Irukandji jellyfish stings in north east Queensland.
8. Box Jellyfish
The box jellyfish is more common than the Irukandji and spreads itself through more of the southern waters of Queensland. Most beaches offer the warning signs to prepare potential swimmers from entering the water during the 'jellyfish' season, October to May. Instant relief can be gained by dousing the stung area with vinegar but the sting has the potential to be fatal and should not be underestimated. There have been 60 recorded deaths in Australia over the past 100 years.
The smallest of all creatures, the mosquito, may be thought to be harmless. But unlike the exotic countries surrounding Australia where malaria is a major factor of death caused by mosquitoes, Australia has cause for alarm with incidents of Dengue Fever in the north of the Queensland state.
The Waters of the Whitsundays
But Wait there's More in the Deadly Creatures' Series
Over the course of the next few articles in this series, each deadly creature mentioned will be examined in more detail with tips and pointers to keeping you safe in the Whitsundays while you explore the inner beauty of a tropical paradise above and below the beautiful blue seas and the coral formations that are the 'Great Barrier Reef'.
The Dangerous Marine Creatures of the Great Barrier Reef Series has been commissioned by Toscana Village Resort, Airlie Beach Accommodation.
© 2012 Karen Wilton
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