Ophiophobia, or an irrational fear of snakes is a common condition among many of my friends, but it is not a fear I share. In fact, you might say I am charmed by snakes. A few years ago, I took this image of an olive snake while visiting the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I wrote an article about it and other dangerous marine animals. You can read that article HERE.
I remember the dive guide mentioning that the Olive Snake was extremely venomous, but also non-aggressive. For me, “non-aggressive” automatically translates to “friendly.” There were several snakes at this site, and two of them followed me around during the entire dive. I have video of them as they entwined themselves with my legs, and they curiously watched their reflections in the dome port of my camera’s housing. Not once did it occur to me that I could be bitten by these adorable creatures.
On another trip in the Philippines, I came across this banded sea krait. This is another venomous sea snake. Again, I was sincerely charmed by the animal, and had no fear for my safety.
So you might wonder why something that has such a powerful venom doesn’t keep me as far away as possible? Well, part of that is stupidity, I suppose, but part of the reason is that the risk isn’t all that great. The toxin produced by the animal is extremely dangerous, but the animal itself isn’t aggressive.
The blue ring octopus is known for having the most toxic bite in the animal kingdom. It’s bite contains Tetrodotoxin (TTX for short) which is 1200 times more toxic than cyanide.
The blue ring octopus is relatively docile and it’s first instinct is to flee. If it is provoked, it’s rings will appear darker and may flash, and if it is cornered or threatened, it may bite.
Puffer fish, Porcupine fish, Ocean sunfish, and Trigger fish are some other marine animals that carry the toxin. The toxin itself isn’t produced by the animal, but by a symbiotic bacteria that resides in the animal. For this reason, as my friend Mike would say, you should never lick em!
One of the most dangerous fish is the Stonefish. This animal has a potent venom secreted from glands near it’s dorsal fin that can be fatal to humans. The fish is well camouflaged, but if disturbed, it’s needle like spines stand up so humans must be very careful not to step on one.
There are lots of other marine animals that pose some degree of danger to humans. But those dangers can be avoided by not disturbing the animals. I often find that the marine life I encounter is curious about me and if a stonefish were writing this blog, it might be about how deadly humans are to marine life rather than the other way around.
How do you feel about the animals in the ocean and how humans interact with them? Please feel free to leave comments below.
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