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March 25, 2010 11:52 AM Pacific (GMT -8)
 

Tips on Avoiding Marine Animal Injuries
by Bill Clendenen, DAN Vice President, Training, and Dan Orr, DAN Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

It?s easy to reduce the risk of hazardous marine life injuries: it starts with following standard safe diving practices. Here are some tips on avoiding marine animal injuries.
  • Practice perfect buoyancy control. By staying off the bottom and avoiding accidental brushes of your hands, arms and legs on coral and other animals, you can easily reduce the most common cause of aquatic injury for divers.

  • Be aware of your surroundings when you dive. Develop a sense of where you are in the water column. If you?re busy looking at marine life or taking pictures, it?s important to know where the reef and bottom are located. Watch the placement of your hands.

  • Look up and around as you ascend and descend. Be careful in jellyfish-inhabited areas. Avoid holding onto the ascent/descent line without gloves. Jellyfish and other stinging critters may get caught in the line.

  • Shuffle your feet and wear thick-soled boots when entering the water in sandy or muddy bottoms.

  • Avoid carrying speared fish when diving in areas known to be populated by sharks.

  • Streamline your body and equipment for maximum efficiency in the water to avoid fatigue. Tired divers are more likely to accidentally touch hazardous marine life.

  • Plan your dive and know what hazardous marine life risks are present.

  • Wear appropriate exposure protection, including gloves and boots. Thin dive skins help minimize the risk of accidental contact of the skin with hazardous marine life.

  • Be passive in your interactions with marine life. Avoid feeding and petting animals or engaging in any other activities that may lead to accidental injury.

  • When taking photos underwater, avoid using the reef for stabilizing yourself.

  • Avoid picking up shells. Some hazardous marine animals live in or on shells.

  • Eat only cooked fish and avoid fish that are known to be potentially poisonous.

  • Pack a first aid kit for divers. Make sure that the components are appropriate for the area of the world where you are diving, and check to ensure that they have not expired. (For detailed suggestions on items to include, see A Traveler?s Emergency Kit.)

  • Learn how to provide first aid for scuba diving injuries, including those caused by hazardous marine life. All scuba divers should learn CPR, first aid and oxygen first aid skills.

For more information on hazardous marine life injuries, see:

  • A Medical Guide to Hazardous Marine Life, third edition, by Paul S. Auerbach, M.D., 1997
  • Venomous and Poisonous Marine Animals, by Dr. John A. Williamson, et al, 1996
  • DAN?s Pocket Guide to Hazardous Marine Life Injuries, by Dan Orr and Bill Clendenen, 1999
  • DAN?s Dive and Travel Medical Guide, 1999 edition
  • Dangerous Marine Creatures, by Dr. Carl Edmonds, 1995

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Hazardous Marine Life
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