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Surfing - Watch Out For Sealife

Sep 13, 2008
Sometimes they even float on the top. Most of that sealife is harmless. Some should be avoided whenever possible.

Sharks are a popular concern and shark attacks can happen. But statistically they're rare unless you're surfing where tours are throwing chum into the water to attract sharks. Most of the sealife you encounter is less deadly, but much more common and some can still inflict painful injuries.

Portuguese Man-o'-War, jellyfish and similar species are probably the most common problem for surfers. They're hard to spot and easily provoked to sting. The sting injects a painful toxin by means of a stinger with a barb at the end. The results can be intense pain that lasts for a few minutes to hours of agony.

If you see them, move away, if possible. Unlike most animals, they don't make efforts to avoid humans, at least not efforts that are typically successful. They're used to using their attributes to paralyze prey.

If you come in contact, try to remove the gelatin as quickly as possible. Whether that's the whole animal, which you can sometimes unwrap from your arm or leg, or a part that has broken off. Remove any stinger as quickly as possible. The longer the animal is in contact, the more toxin you can receive.

Removing it at once may lead to a few minutes of intense discomfort. At a certain dosage, the toxin will cause pain in the lymph glands, usually under the armpits. That is an experience you will want never to have. It may last several hours.

Stingrays are less common in most areas, but occur in some surfing locations. They have a tail that contains a spiny protrusion. They are less likely to strike and are harder to provoke, but contact can be painful or even lethal. Though it was a very rare accident, the famed animal expert, Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died when he was pierced in the chest by a stingray.

There are other, more sedentary sea creatures that can also cause discomfort, disorientation or injury.

Coral beds are alive with all sorts of spiny, rough, and other creatures that produce scrapes and cuts. Few are poisonous, but most are painful to swim across. If your board runs over a shallow area where your feet or legs come into contact with a coral reef you're likely to come away sorrier.

Exercise common sense, wear a wetsuit if you think you are likely to be in an area containing dangerous sealife, and don't look for trouble. You'll have more time for surfing.

Wear sun swimwear and uv protective swimsuits when outdoor, surfing or swimming, since the sun's uv radiation can reflect off many surfaces and causes skin damage.
About the Author
J Edmond have been working in the sun protection clothing industry for several years. The main aim is to raise awareness of the sun' UV radiation and it's effect on human skin. Click here for more info about sun protection swimwear and UV protective clothing.
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