Things to Avoid While in the Water
"Look But Don't Touch!"
Contact with corals can cause severe damage to them, and injury or infection to you.
Long-spined Sea UrchinsFound in reefs, seagrass beds or on rock piles on the sea floor, these urchins have long spines that puncture the skin if stepped on or touched. The spines are usually absorbed in a few days. Do not try to pull spines out. In some cases, they may have to be removed by a doctor.
Prevention: Avoid any contact with urchins.
Symptoms: Redness, pain and swelling.
Remedy: Soak the wound in hot water. Vinegar may help dissolve the spines.
These non-native fish have poisonous venom-tipped spines.
These corals have strong stinging cells and are either blade-like (shown) or encrusting (flat), and are mustard-yellow to dark orange, often with white edges.
Jellyfish and Sea Wasps
These animals are not commonly found in waters here. Avoidance is the best practice. Jellyfish and sea wasps both have soft gelatinous bodies with long stinging tentacles that discharge when touched.
Hydroids resemble a feathery plant, related to jellyfish and corals, and have strong stinging cells. Find them attached to rocks and plants, particularly mangrove roots, on docks, buoys and mooring lines.
Eels are usually found in rock piles, under coral ledges and in caves. Eels are not aggressive by nature but can attack if provoked.
Excellent camouflage helps these fish blend into seagrass, coral reef and rocky habitats. Venomous spines line the dorsal, anal and pectoral fins.
Fireworms, or bristleworms, are commonly found in sea grass, on or under boulders, and coral. Thousands of fine venom-filled, needle-like bristles can break off and become embedded in the skin.
Shark attacks are extremely rare in the Virgin Islands.
Stand Only in Sand, Never on Coral
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Last updated: February 11, 2019