Marine Biology

A look at the most Dangerous Ocean Reef Predators



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Colors galore is what one finds while viewing beautiful coral reef scenes. This beauty, however, can be deceiving as far as what reef animals have outer beauty and which ones are really beautiful no matter how they look. The fact is beautiful ocean animal coloring often mean deadly ocean creatures.

In addition to coloring, there is a wide assortment of sizes and shapes of reef predators as revealed in the look at some of the most dangerous ocean reef predators below.

* Spotted Pufferfish Swallowing water to "puff up" like a balloon is a pufferfish's first line of defense; and it's this swelling ability that gives puffers their name. Blowing up like balloons makes puffers difficult if not impossible to swallow. One would be wise to take heed of the puffer's swelling ability for consuming this fish could cause a predator to ingest one of the tetrodotoxin, one of the most dangerous neurotoxins that have the potential to kill a human in less than twenty four hours.

* Crown of Thorns Starfish Capable of massacring an entire coral head in less than twenty four hours, the Crown of Thoms has become the most famous of all seas stars due to its ability to destroy reef systems. These starfish live off coral polyps. Triton's Trumpet Seashell and Harlequin Shrimp are the Crown of Thoms,' only known predator. Thoms' have venomous spines that are painful to the touch.

* Stingray A flat disk-like fish that hangs out on sandy ocean floors, the stingray possesses a tail-resembling whip that it uses to defend itself against predators. The tip of the stingray's tail is not poisonous; however, it can cause burn-like infections to humans.
StonefishOne of the most ugly and one of the most dangerous reef inhabitants, the stonefish, that is covered with rough warty skin instead of scales, has poisonous spines stick out from the stonefish's bumpy skin along its dorsal fins. They are a mottled brown-green color. Stepping on this fish could be a costly, yet easy mistake to make while crossing dead coral and rocks barefooted as the fish lays camouflaged. Severe pain and even death could be the results of a skin puncture from a stonefishes' poisonous spines running along its dorsal fins.

* Lionfish A beautiful fish and an aquarium keeper's favorite; the lionfish have pink to brownish looking zebra-like stripes. They can spread their fins and spines like a turkey or peacock spreads its feathers. The lionfish uses its feathery fins to herd and corner its prey before capturing it. Protruding spines aligning the lionfish's back serve as pain inflicting weapons against predators.

* Surgeonfish These fish have scalpel sharp spines on either side of their tails. When attacked, the surgeonfish moves their tails in sweeping motions to slash perpetrators.

* Porcupinefish A near full-bodied spiny fish capable of inflating itself by over-drinking water, or swallowing air. Porcupines convert themselves to balls of spines if threatened; and some species are equipped with tetrodoxin.

* Gray Reef Shark These sharks are aggressive towards humans. They can be identified by dark markings on their pelvic and caudal fins. Their second dorsal and anal fins are dark, and their pectoral fin tips are dark. These fish can grow up to seven feet long. They make their homes in the outer edges of reefs.

* Scalloped Hammerhead Shark These sharks are aggressive to humans. Their heads' front margin has four shallow loves. These sharks grow up to fifteen feet; and make their homes far out in the sea or close to the shore. They like to eat fish, crustaceans, cephalopods, stingrays, and other sharks.

* Galapagos Shark These sharks are aggressive to humans. They can be identified by their large first dorsal fin with nearly vertical rear edge. These shark grow up to twelve feet and eat bottom fishes. They like to linger about deep reef waters but gad about inshore on occasion.

* Irukandji Jellyfish whose sting causes potentially fatal Irukandji Syndrome in humans. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sweating, anxiety, hypertension, and pulmonary edema, headache, and chest pain. The Irukandji grows to about two centimeters across the bell. These jellyfish can be identified by their bell shape, and four retractile tentacles hanging from the underside of their bodies. Usually found in deep reef waters, however, they also linger inshore on occasion.

* Box Jelly Fish This jellyfish may be the most dangerous reef creatures. It can be identified by its box-shaped bell and tentacle clusters extending from its boxed body. Boxed jellies grow up to twenty centimeters and can have as many as fifteen three meter tentacles on the underside of their bells. They are a pale blue and their bells are transparent. Boxed jellies like to linger around river mouths and muddy water. These jellyfish like to hang about the shore during calm waters. If stung by a box jelly, treatment must be sought immediately, or chances of survival will be next to none.

* Blue Ringed Octopus This octopus' beak is capable of penetrating wet-suits; and its tetrodotoxin poisonous sting can kill an adult human in a matter of minutes. This cute little octopus is about the size of a golf ball; and can be identified by its "glowing" rings that turn electric blue when threatened. It likes to linger about coral rock pools and dine on invertebrates and injured fish. Its venom contains tetrodotoxin. Symptoms of a sting include nausea, blurred vision, loss of speech, sense of touch, and the ability to swallow. Paralysis comes along about three minutes after sting infliction sending the victim into respiratory arrest.

* Cone Shells Sea shells are great to collect, but some of them, like cone shells are dangerous. Some cone shells, or cone snails as some call them, contain neurotoxin venom. Cone shells are predatory gastropods that eat marine organisms, mollusks, and worms. Their beautiful shells can be speckled or striped. They may be either thick or thin. These shells have tiny harpoon-like teeth that can even bite through clothing. Cone shells like to hang around muddy sand flats and shallow reef waters with alternating low and high tides.

* Great White SharkAn aggressive ruthless hunter, the "Great White" has been known to grow beyond twenty-five feet. They eat nearly anything, but mostly like to devour sea lions and other marine animals. These sharks don't usually attack humans, however, have done so about thirty-one times in the last two centuries. Its powerful teeth are capable of crushing humans.
Tiger SharkThis ferocious predator, the tiger shark, is second to the "Great White" as far as its reputation as a killer. Tiger sharks grow to just over sixteen feet. They have big heads and blunt snouts. Their bodies have striped markings. Unlike the great white, tiger sharks have more of a propensity to attack humans.

* Scalloped Hammerhead SharkThese sharks are known to attack humans. Characterized by the large hammer-shaped head, the scalloped Hammerhead has eyes on either end of the hammer-like structure that sets in a horizontal position. This shark can grow up to fourteen feet and mainly eats invertebrates and small fish.

There are many more dangerous ocean reef predators. Which one is actually most dangerous is probably a matter of educational reasoning and personal opinion.

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