Water And Oceanography

Deadly Creatures of the Great Barrier Reef



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The grand masters of art would be challenged to capture the cornucopia of color, shape, size and dimension of the animals that reside in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The warm sun kissed waters are home to the symbiotic creatures the coral polyps and the minute zooxanthallae who give them their vibrant red and blues colors and the bright white, which indicates a potential disastrous condition of the reef. The size and the diversity of the Great Barrier Reef are well known. What may not be known are the beautiful yet so dangerous creatures who reside in the Great Barrier Reef.

Why can a reef animal be so lovely and yet dangerous and often deadly? High on the list of beautiful but deadly creatures is the Box Jelly Fish. This creature is a luminescent pale blue and glides gracefully in the water with its box shape and long slender tentacles. Those tentacles are dangerous and can have as many as five thousand stinging cells in them. Their sting results in excruciating pain that can put a person into immediate shock and die within minutes, before reaching the shore and help.

A scorpion fish member, the lionfish has eye catching red and white stripes. Beautiful creatures that captivate people with their grace and beauty swimming in the shallow waters of the Great Barrier Reef are also dangerous and poisonous. Though their venom in their fin spines is not usually deadly, the poison is painful and can take long periods of time in which to recover.

The blue ring octopus is of two types, one that is small and one that is tiny but both are deadly. The octopus itself is a beautiful pale yellow or brown and quite timid. What is unique are the rings of this creature, that when threatened, begin to turn a bright blue and unfortunately a person is holding this creature when they do, its too late. They can deliver a deadly sting to someone nave who picks one up. They can kill within minutes from their stings so they are best watched with respect..

Children especially love shells, and cone shells are some of the loveliest of shells. Animals residing in beautiful shells with stripes and or speckles catch their eye and they dream of picking them up and taking them home. Warning, these cone shells have teeth, sharp teeth like harpoons. Their poison has a wide range of effects from simply feeling nauseated to actual death.

A stonefish isn't bright and colorful as those animals mentioned above, but rather is yellowish or brownish and blends into the area in which it is resting. While they are not easy to spot, a touch by hand or an accidental foot will suddenly feel the horrific pain of its numerous poisonous spines. The sting causes swelling and all the tissue around the sting dies. There is an antivenin so the prognosis for a recovery is good.

These are but some of the deadliest animals in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Creatures that look like flora and fauna too can be in reality tiny animals that can sting and bite as well. When visiting the coral reef, a wise approach would be to ask about the creatures of people who can identify and tell you which ones to approach and which ones to have a healthy respect for and avoid. The reef is a spectacular place to observe so much beauty, so much diversity, and yet to remain aware that some beauty is indeed quite dangerous.

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More about this author: Melody Landeros

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