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Toad Fish

Dangerous Sea Creatures

Belize is home of many dangerous Creatures. Smaller animals actually present more of a threat to humans than large animals. To compensate for their size, nature has given many small animals weapons such as fangs and stingers to defend themselves. These are the animals you are more likely to meet as you unwittingly move into their habitat, or they slip into your environment unnoticed.

There are several species of venomous fish and invertebrates, all of which live in salt water. All of these are capable of injecting poisonous venom through spines located in their fins, tentacles, or bites. Their venoms cause intense pain and are potentially fatal. If injured by one of these fish or invertebrates, treat the injury as for snakebite.

Auger Shells

The Auger Shells or Terebra,  are similar to cone shells but much thinner and longer. They poison in the same way as cone shells, but their venom is not as poisonouIn some cones, the venom is powerful enough to be lethal to collectors who are not careful in handling the mollusc. World-wide, there are about 300 species

Auger Shells

Cone shells

These cone-shaped shells have smooth, colorful mottling and long, narrow openings in the base of the shell. They live under rocks, in crevices and coral reefs, and along rocky shores and protected bays in tropical areas. All have tiny teeth that are similar to hypodermic needles. Avoid any shell shaped like an ice cream cone.

They can inject an extremely poisonous venom that acts very swiftly, causing acute pain, swelling, paralysis, blindness, and possible death within hours. Avoid handling all cone shells. Three species that are known killers are the Geographic Cone (Conus geo- graphus) the Textile Cone (Conus textile), and the Tulip Cone (Conus tulipus) though around twenty cones are known to be dangerous to humans.

Cone shell
Size, max 6" or 15 cm

Cone Shells
Conidae Collection

Fire Coral

Fire corals have a bright yellow-green and brown skeletal covering and are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical waters. They appear in small brush-like growths on rocks and coral. Divers often mistake fire coral for seaweed, and accidental contact is common.

Fire corals are colonial marine organisms that look rather like real coral. However they are technically not corals; they are actually more closely related to jellyfish and other stinging anemones.

Net Fire Coral
Net fire coral

Plate Fire Coral
Plate fire coral
The very small nematocysts on fire corals contain tentacles that protrude from numerous surface pores (similar to Jelly Fish stings). In addition, fire corals have a sharp, calcified external skeleton that can scrape the skin.

Portugese man on war

Although it resembles a jellyfish, the Portuguese man-of-war is actually a colony of sea animals. Mainly found in tropical regions, the Gulf stream current can carry it as far as Europe. It is also found as far south as Australia.

The Portuguese man-of-war resembles a large pink or purple balloon floating on the sea. The floating portion of the man-of-war may be as small as 15 centimeters, but the tentacles can reach 12 meters in length. The huge tentacles are actually colonies of stinging cells. These tentacles inflict a painful and incapacitating sting, but the sting is rarely fatal.

Portugese man on war or Auqa Male

Portugese man on war

Scorpion Fish or Zebra Fish

Scorpion fish live mainly in the reefs. They vary from 30 to 90 centimeters long, are usually reddish in coloration, and have long wavy fins and spines. They inflict an intensely painful sting. Rockfish, also referred to as scorpion fish in the tropics, are found most often in the sand or near rocks, even where the water is shallow. It has stingers on its head and fins.

Scorpio Fish or Zebra Fish
Scorpaena plumiere
Stone Fish

Stonefish are found in the tropical waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans. Averaging about 30 centimeters in length, their subdued colors and lumpy shape provide them with exceptional camoflauge. When stepped on, the fins in the dorsal spine inflict an extremely painful and sometimes fatal wound. The Stonefish is the most venomous fish in the world.

Stone Fish
Synanceja verrucosa


The Surgeonfish or Tang is average 20 to 25 centimeters in length, with a deep body, small mouth, and bright coloration. Named for extremely sharp and movable spines located on each side of their tail that are thought to resemble a surgeonâs scalpel, that cause extremely painful wounds.

Surgeonfish or Tang

Toadfish are between 17.5 and 25 centimeters long and have a dull color and large mouths. Males make the nests and guard them after the female lays the eggs.

The male attracts the female by "singing", that is by releasing air by contracting muscles on their swim bladder. The sound has been called a 'hum' or 'whistle'. They often hide in rock crevices, among the bottom vegetation, or even bury themselves in the sand and may be easily stepped on. They have very sharp, extremely poisonous spines on the dorsal fin (back).


Toad Fish


Jellyfish-related deaths are rare, but the sting they inflict is extremely painful. Most known deaths from jellyfish are attributed to the man-of-war. Other jellyfish can inflict very painful stings as well. Avoid the long tentacles of any jellyfish, even those washed up on the beach and apparently dead.


Stingrays (Dasyatidae species) are a real hazard in shallow waters, especially tropical waters. The type of bottom appears to be irrelevant. There is a great variance between species, but all have a sharp spike in their tail that may be venomous and can cause extremely painful wounds if stepped on. All rays have a typical shape that resembles a kite. You find them along the coasts of the Americas, Africa, and Australasia.

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Dangerous Portugese man on war
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