AMSA Safety Alert: Dangerous Marine Fauna

AMSA Safety Alert: Dangerous Marine Fauna

Raising awareness of the risks posed by dangerous marine fauna.

Posted on 12.03.2020

Australian waters contain a range of dangerous fauna that secrete toxins, inject venom, release or contain poison, harbour dangerous bacteria, give electric shocks or just have sharp teeth. Some can become aggressive once disturbed.

An unwanted encounter with any of these dangerous fauna can happen without warning, so it is essential that you, your crew and passengers are prepared.

Marine stingers

Australia’s marine and estuarine environment is home to numerous types of harmful jellyfish, collectively known as marine stingers. A sting from any of these can be painful, but the sting of the irukandji or the box jellyfish can be lethal.

Sea snakes

At least 32 species of sea snakes inhabit Australian waters.

A small dose of venom is highly toxic, resulting in muscle pain and stiffness, drooping eyelids, drowsiness and vomiting. If it is a serious bite it can cause total paralysis and death. Immediate medical assistance is critical.

Venomous, poisonous or spiny fish

A number of hazardous fish inhabit Australian coastal waters. The most dangerous include stonefish, stingrays, eel-tailed catfish, bullrout, scorpionfish and rabbitfish.

Blue-ringed octopus

Blue-ringed octopi are very small and inhabit tide pools and shallow reefs, but fishers sometimes haul them up on deck with the catch.

Despite its small size, the bite of the blue-ringed octopus carries enough venom to kill 26 adult humans within minutes.


Crocodiles can be found in both saltwater and freshwater around the northern regions of Australia from the Kimberly region in Western Australia, across the north and down the coast of Queensland, south of Mackay.


A number of shark species are prevalent around Australia, including the white pointer, bull shark and tiger shark. Although shark attacks are rare, they can be fatal.

The Poisons Information Centre provides some useful guidance on response strategies to bites and stings from dangerous marine fauna—refer to their website or call 13 11 26 for further information.

See also:

Queensland Poisons Information Centre  Call 13 11 26

AMSA Safety Alert





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