At this point, most people are aware of the dangerous animals found in Florida.
The news is filled with cases of Florida black bears roaming around people’s garbage in the suburbs, attacking people and their pets. Alligators also got a bad rep, which is entirely understandable. The news is full of headlines depicting local authorities dealing with various human body parts found in their digestive tracts.
But what about Florida’s marine life? Are Florida’s waters safer than the land? The case might not be so. The sea is filled with deadly creatures lurking around, trying to defend their territory or find the next snack. Here is a list of the five most dangerous sea creatures swimming around North Florida:
- Box jellyfish
- Portuguese man o’ war
Many different sharks are swimming in Florida’s waters. This includes species like spinner shark, blacknose shark, hammerhead shark, lemonhead shark, etc.
These species tend to be docile and present a minor threat to humans.
However, two species of shark are well known to attack humans. These include bull sharks and the famous great white sharks. Fortunately, the great white shark is nowadays rarely seen in the waters of North Florida.
The last lethal shark attack happened in 2006 near Miramar Beach in Walton County. A young teenage girl, Jamie Marie Daigle, who was only 14, was swimming on a boogie board with a friend, only 100 yards from the shore, when a bull shark attacked her, biting her leg. Although the beachgoers immediately noticed the attack and came to the rescue, it was too late for young Jamie.
She died from loss of blood.
Stunning white beaches, emerald-hued waters, challenging golf, and world-famous fishing
There are over 30 species of box jellyfish.
They can significantly vary in size – some being only an inch long and others measuring up to horrifying ten feet. What makes them even scarier is that the box jellyfish possess the most powerful venom in the ocean.
Their tentacles are covered with tine darts filled with venom – also known as nematocysts.
The sting can be excruciating. In some cases, it can lead to shock, which, in the most extreme cases, can lead to heart failure.
Although there are not many fatal cases of jellyfish-caused death in North Florida, people should still be cautious when going for a swim. Especially because jellyfish are difficult to spot, their attacks are the most frequent among the marine creatures attack.
In 2018 along the Florida beaches, over 800 people were treated for jellyfish attack – in a single weekend!
Portuguese man o’ war
Portuguese man o’ war is a marine hydrozoan found in the Indian and the Atlantic oceans. Just like jellyfish, it has numerous nematocysts which deliver a powerful sting. What makes them even scarier is that they live in colonies. So if you happen to see one, there is likely 1000s more around you.
Currently, there are only two confirmed causes of death caused by this strange creature worldwide: one in Italy and the other in North Florida.
The cased happened in 1987 on the Atlantic coast of Florida. The venom caused the victim to go into an anaphylactic shock, which ultimately resulted in death.
"Despite appropriate beachside first aid, the patient was conscious only several minutes before having primary respiratory arrest and, later, cardiovascular collapse that resulted in death. Discharged nematocysts were still visible on the injured stratum corneum five days after envenomation." - Case Report, National Library of Medicine
Do not let the stingrays’ innocent looks fool you. Although these creatures rarely attack, when they do, they can inflict severe pain. In some cases, their sting can result in death – remember Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter?! Poor guy.
Stingrays are armed with at least one venomous spine at the base of their tales. Sometimes that tale can grow up to 14 feet! The tale is there for protection, and stingrays will not attack unless they perceive danger.
In 2006, an 81-year-old man was fishing with his granddaughter near Lighthouse Point when a stingray jumped out of the water and stung the older man in the heart, penetrating his lungs. Thankfully, the granddaughter reacted immediately, calling 911, which saved the man’s life.
Although this case is from the South of the peninsula, it should remind people all over Florida not to take this cute-looking animal lightly.
Fish (barracuda, lionfish, and needlefish)
Most fish are not dangerous. However, some are known to cause serious harm to humans.
Lionfish are equipped with their potent venom, which can be lethal in some extreme cases. Even when the effects are not lethal, they are still unpleasant. They can include severe pain, nausea, dizziness, fiver, and numbness.
Barracuda fish can mistake humans for prey by shiny things, such as diamonds. These attacks are pretty rare, but their unpleasant look is alarming to humans.
In 2010, a needlefish jumped out of the water and stabbed a kayaker in Florida waters.
The fish managed to pierce the kayaker’s lungs and break a couple of ribs. Thankfully, the kayaker managed to reach the hospital in time. She was left with painful wounds and an incredible story to tell – of how she survived being stabbed by a fish while out of water.
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