What is a butterfly cod? Butterfly cods are spectacular fish with brilliant colouring and long defensive spiny fins. It is part of the scorpionfish family, but unlike other members of this family which often rely on camouflage for protection, they swim freely around coral reefs, leaving their venomous fins to give them 360 degree protection. They include the firefish (Pterois species) and lionfish (Dendrochirus species). What do they look like? Butterfly cod are characterised by their long, spiny fins. The dorsal, anal and pelvic fins are all venomous.
These brightly-coloured fish grow up to 30 centimetres long. Where are they found? Butterfly cod are predominantly found in tropical and subtropical waters. Smaller animals may be seen in temperate waters due to larvae getting caught in currents, but usually don’t survive the cooler winter months. Behaviour: Butterfly cod are nocturnal animals, becoming active when the sun sets. During the day they are mostly stationary. They show little fear of divers and often orientate their body so that their dorsal fins point forward in a defensive pose.
They feed mostly on crustaceans but may consume fish including juveniles of their own species. Threats: These fish are not listed as threatened. However, like other tropical sea creatures, their coral reef habitats are under threat from the effects of climate change and the resultant ocean acidification. Precautions: Butterfly cod are not aggressive. The long venomous spines are purely defensive. Injury prevention is simple; don’t run into these animals. Stay at least a metre away when observing them, so you are not putting yourself at risk.
Show some respect to these beautiful animals and they will leave you alone. Treatment: Wounds from the spines of butterfly cod can result in unbelievable agony. The injured limb should be placed in water as hot as can be tolerated to help alleviate the pain. Immediate medical aid is recommended, as a local anaesthetic may be needed for the pain. Bullrout Identification Bullrout has s large head, seven spines on the operculum. It has a big mouth with a protruding lower jaw. The spinous dorsal fin is slightly concave posteriorly and the last soft dorsal ray is attached by a membrane to the caudal peduncle.
The body is covered with small scales but the head is scaleless. Its colouration is variable from pale yellowish to dark brown, with blotches and marbling of dark brown, red-brown, grey or black. These markings sometimes form broad irregular bands. It is believed that Bullrout grow up to 30 cm in size, but are more commonly found at the 20 cm size. Danger to humans and first aid The dorsal, anal and pelvic spines on a bullrout have venom glands on them, and should be handled with extreme care. A puncture wound from one of these spines can be excruciatingly painful.
For immediate relief of pain associated with the sting of a bullrout, immerse the affected area in hot water. Cone shell What do they look like? The shells of the cone shell are shaped like an ice-cream cone, brightly coloured and intricately patterned. Inside the shell, is a snail. Parts of the snail that appear outside the shell are its foot used for movement, a siphon which draws in water for them to breathe and a tooth or snout used for hunting and defence. Where do they live? In shallow water, sand flats and reefs all around Australia.
Why are they dangerous? Cone shells have harpoon-like darts which can deliver paralysing venom via their tooth. This venom can cause nausea, weakness, numbness, tingling and affect your movement, vision, hearing and speech. It also stops your lungs working, which can lead to death. How to avoid them. Do not pick up any cone-shaped shells, even if they are washed up on shore. There is no safe way to pick up a cone shell as their tooth can reach all parts of the shell. What to do if you get hurt. Call 000 to get urgent medical assistance.
Apply a pressure- immobilisation bandage and provide CPR as necessary. Sea snakes What do they look like ? The 22 species of sea-snakes found in WA vary greatly in their colours and markings. They all, however, have nostrils on the top of the snout, a boat-shaped abdomen and a flat tail which acts as a paddle to help them swim more effectively. Where do they live ? Most sea-snakes live in the warm, shallow seas of the tropics and sub-tropics. Some inhabit muddy estuaries, while others show a liking for clear waters near reefs.
Individuals of some tropical species are occasionally swept south by warm currents, but eventually perish in the cooler southerly waters. Sea-snakes are common in the Shark Bay Marine Park, Ningaloo Marine Park, Montebello Islands Marine Park and Rowley Shoals Marine Park. The Shark Bay sea-snake (Aipysurus pooleorum) lives almost exclusively in the Shark Bay Marine Park. The yellow-bellied sea-snake (Pelamis platura) lives in the open ocean and sometimes washes up on beaches in the south-west. Behaviour: Sea-snakes are quite curious and may approach people, but if you don’t touch them they should leave you alone.
Sea-snakes have been known to curl around divers’ regulator hoses and limbs, especially during the breeding season (perhaps mistaking them for a female of their own kind). If this occurs, don’t become alarmed, but wait patiently until they move off. Although sea-snakes are highly venomous, they are generally quite placid and rarely attack people unless provoked. Even if they do bite, they do not always release venom. As a precaution, however, never touch sea-snakes washed onto beaches, even if they seem dead. They may still be alive and lash out in alarm. Bluebottles
The blue bottle feeds on small fish and other small ocean creatures. They envelope their prey with their tentacles, where a poison is released thus paralysing its prey before being consumed. The tentacles adhere extremely well to their prey. If a tentacle is put under the microscope you will see that it looks like a long string of barbed hooks, which explains the ability of the tentacle to attach. If a tentacle attaches itself to a human, it releases a poison (through the use of nematocysts), and if you continue to rub the skin after the tentacle has been removed more poison or venom will be released.
If you are stung, it is best to wash the area without touching. A cold pack should be used to relieve the pain. If stung, please consult a doctor immediately. Stinging hyrdroids While most hydroids are harmless to touch, the stinging hydroid has a powerful sting. The colonies look like clumps of feathers or ferns dotted around among the corals on a reef. Individual polyps are arranged along one side of the smallest branches and extend their stinging tentacles to catch small planktonic animals. The sting is not usually dangerous to humans, but it results in an itchy rash that can irritate for up to a week.
Sharks Buoyancy Unlike bony fish, sharks do not have gas-filled swim bladders for buoyancy. Instead, sharks rely on a large liver filled with oil that contains squalene, and their cartilage, which is about half the normal density of bone. Their liver constitutes up to 30% of their total body mass. The liver’s effectiveness is limited, so sharks employ dynamic lift to maintain depth when not swimming. Sand tiger sharks store air in their stomachs, using it as a form of swim bladder. Most sharks need to constantly swim in order to breathe and cannot sleep very long without sinking (if at all).
However, certain species, like the nurse shark, are capable of pumping water across their gills, allowing them to rest on the ocean bottom. behaviour The classic view describes a solitary hunter, ranging the oceans in search of food. However, this applies to only a few species. Most live far more sedentary, benthic lives. Even solitary sharks meet for breeding or at rich hunting grounds, which may lead them to cover thousands of miles in a year. Shark migration patterns may be even more complex than in birds, with many sharks covering entire ocean basins. Sharks can be highly social, remaining in large schools.
Sometimes more than 100 scalloped hammerheads congregate around seamounts and islands, e. g. , in the Gulf of California. Cross-species social hierarchies exist. For example, oceanic white tip sharks dominate silky sharks of comparable size during feeding. When approached too closely some sharks perform a threat display. This usually consists of exaggerated swimming movements, and can vary in intensity according to the threat level. Stingrays Behaviour The flattened bodies of stingrays allow them to effectively conceal themselves in their environment. Stingrays do this by agitating the sand and hiding beneath it.
Because their eyes are on top of their bodies and their mouths on the undersides, stingrays cannot see their prey; instead, they use smell and electroreceptor’s (ampullae of Lorenzini) similar to those of sharks. Stingrays feed primarily on molluscs, crustaceans, and occasionally on small fish. Some stingrays’ mouths contain two powerful, shell-crushing plates, while other species only have sucking mouthparts. Stingrays settle on the bottom while feeding, often leaving only their eyes and tail visible. Coral reefs are favorite feeding grounds and are usually shared with sharks during high tide.
Stingrays do not aggressively attack humans, though stings do normally occur if a ray is accidentally stepped on. To avoid stepping on a stingray in shallow water, the water should be waded through with a shuffle. Alternatively, before wading, stones can be thrown into the water to scare stingrays away. Contact with the stinger causes local trauma (from the cut itself), pain, swelling, muscle cramps from the venom, and later may result in infection from bacteria or fungus. The injury is very painful, but seldom life-threatening unless the stinger pierces a vital area.
The barb usually breaks off in the wound, and surgery may be required to remove the fragments. Stonefish The Stonefish is another of Australia’s deadly marine creatures. They inhabit shallow waters along the coast. The stonefish is well camouflaged in the ocean, as it is a brownish colour, and often resembles a rock. This is why it is called the Stonefish. It has thirteen sharp dorsal spines on its back, which each have extremely toxic venom. People swimming in the ocean need to take care, as they can unknowingly step on a Stonefish and have venom injected into their foot. Jellyfish ellyfish sting their prey using nematocysts, also called cnidocysts, stinging structures located in specialized cells called cnidocytes, which are characteristic of all Cnidaria.
Contact with a jellyfish tentacle can trigger millions of nematocysts to pierce the skin and inject venom. The three goals of first aid for uncomplicated stings are to prevent injury to rescuers, deactivate the nematocysts, and remove tentacles attached to the patient. Rescuers usually wear barrier clothing, such wet suits while removing jellies or tentacles from injured. Deactivating the nematocysts (stinging cells) prevents further injection of venom.