Long Island, New York Scuba Diving

Our Long Island Scuba diving adventures and events

Monday, March 07, 2005

"I think there is something swimming up my urethra"

Got your attention, didn't it? I thought it would be a good idea to do a series of articles on the the different creatures that a diver might interact with on a Northeast dive. And while very often I like to talk about the edible kind, I find that new divers are very interested in finding out what not to touch and what kinds of creatures are dangerous. Don't worry, nothing is going to swim up any part of your body but if you know a few simple rules it's easy to enjoy your dive and pay attention to the things you are interested in rather than dwelling on a fear of the unknown.
First, wear gloves. Gloves are very important as the number one defense mechanism of sea creatures is to have something sharp and stingy to stick a would-be predator. A cheap pair of diving gloves will protect a diver from almost all sharp stingy things. Most fish have some type of dorsal barb. Trigger fish, stripers, Black sea bass and sea robbins all have the dorsal barb. It will only work to hurt you if you grab down on it hard. If you do stick yourself the hole is going to hurt for days. There is no reason you should ever do that now that you know it exists. I grab all fish from the mouth or gills to avoid any sticky fins regardless if they have a dorsal barb or not. The trigger fish have the added ability to bite so never grab them by the mouth. Then again if you are only swimming around you never need to worry about dorsal barbs or teeth.
Crabs and lobster have pinchy claws and most are rendered ineffective if you grab the crab or lobster by the carapace and point the claws away from you. This works for most crabs and lobsters except for the blue claw crab. If ever God decided to put all the speed, aggressiveness and overall nasty into a creature it was the Blue Claw Crab. They are incredibly dangerous to handle under the water as they are excellent swimmers and can turn their scissor like claws on your pruney fingers in a split second. They have the hardest bite of any crab in the world and their sharp claws can cut right through your glove. As a rule I don't handle them under water. Again, if you are just a sightseer you don't have to worry about any of it.
Jelly fish are not the last stingy critter but they are around in the summer and can give a person a nasty sting. The rule of thumb is to watch where you are going. Most people swim right into them and that's how they get stung. If you do get stung and immediate remedy is urine which will help to back out the tiny stinging probes the jellyfish's tentacles have shot into you. You can also rub them out with wet sand. I prefer wet sand although I really have nothing against anyone who would prefer remedy #1.
Some other rules are don't reach into holes if you don't know what is in them and don't rest on metal wrecks as the rusty metal can be very sharp.

That's really it. There are a couple of things to watch out for. Most are harmless unless you interact aggressively with them. I've been bitten and stabbed by damn near every creature in the Northeast Ocean and every time it was my fault. If you are just out to watch nature and interact with the sea creatures on their level, you have nothing to fear. Good Diving to all of you. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at info@longislanddiving.com


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