First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries


Cruising sailors are largely responsible for their own medical care unless moored in a town with a clinic. On board our Peterson 44, Oddly Enough, I acted as medical officer and would have welcomed DAN Boater’s First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries to my reference library because we spent many hours in and around coral reefs at isolated islands.

By “marine life,” the book means mostly small sea-bottom animals and floating organisms that don’t move fast but can cause serious injuries to the unwary. This isn’t about sharks or crocodiles. Marine animals that hurt or kill are not confined to tropical reefs; knowing how to avoid injury depends on knowing where they hang out, much like hurricane risk avoidance.

DAN’s book contains full-page (8.5-by-11-inch) color photos and identifies symptoms, prevention techniques, treatment and prevalence of animals, accidents and fatal injuries. The format resembles a magazine and sells for $10. It could stand to be kept in a binder for protection (a hardbound book of this type would be expensive). It’s interesting that the sting of some animals I fear most, such as the Portuguese man-of-war, are listed as painful but not necessarily fatal, while some injuries like sea urchin spine punctures can cause necrosis of the skin and lead to major problems. Treatment suggestions are practical and sometimes surprising.

DAN Boater has been part of Divers Alert Network since 2015 with membership and coverage geared to recreational boaters and adventure travelers, says Ursula Hash, program development manager. Part of its mission is educational.

As a matter of interest, in 10 years of cruising the Pacific, I encountered triggerfish spine punctures and man-of-war stings, plus a mild case of ciguatera fish poisoning; my husband’s shin became infected with bacteria in a lagoon, and as a shell collector I was really timid around cone snail shells.

The guide is available to members and non-members alike at the DAN Boater store online:

By Ocean Navigator