|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
- Streamline your body and equipment for maximum efficiency in the water to
avoid fatigue. Tired divers are more likely to accidentally touch hazardous
- 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
- 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
- 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,
- 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
- DAN?s Dive and Travel Medical Guide, 1999 edition
- Dangerous Marine
Creatures, by Dr. Carl Edmonds, 1995
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