Danger lurks on holiday in the Mediterranean: Deadly animals in the water

A compass jellyfish, as shown here, is tiny in contrast to the recently discovered giant jellyfish in Tasmania with a screen diameter of one meter.

© dpa

  • OfLisa Klein

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Anyone looking to cool off in the Mediterranean should know their way around. Because there are some dangers lurking for people under water. What vacationers should know.

Deadly dangers lurk not only on land in the Mediterranean – such as the yellow Mediterranean scorpion or the Spanish funnel-web spider – but also under water. Sharks will probably be the first thing most people think of. Yes, there are also sharks in the Mediterranean, but shark attacks are rather rare in Europe. The much greater dangers come from smaller animals, which are easily overlooked or underestimated.

Among the 20 most dangerous marine animals in the world by taucher.de are also some that live in the Mediterranean, such as the weever, luminous jellyfish and sea snakes. Not all animals can kill humans, but an encounter can end very painfully. *echo24.de reveals which animals in the Mediterranean should be better watched out for.

Deadly Danger Underwater: Poisonous and Dangerous Animals in the Mediterranean Sea

As already mentioned: An encounter with a shark is rather rare in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, there are several species of sharks that live in the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, the most dangerous and largest of all sharks also occurs in the Mediterranean, like WWF Germany reported: the Jaws. This is considered endangered because of its rarity. Globally, about three to seven great white shark attacks occur each year, about 20 percent of which are fatal. Most attacks occur off the coasts of California, South Africa, South Australia and Japan – but not in the Mediterranean.

Most other sharks in the Mediterranean are rather harmless and eat plankton or fish. Much more dangerous for humans is the weever. The small, inconspicuous fish is one of the most poisonous fish in Europe and has also made it into the top 11 most poisonous animals in Germany. The animal buries itself in the sand and is therefore invisible to bathers – but whoever steps on the weever gets to feel its poisonous sting. This means severe pain and long-lasting swelling – those who are allergic can even go into cardiac arrest.

Poisonous animals in the Mediterranean: These jellyfish are particularly dangerous

Although not deadly, an encounter with the luminous jellyfish can be really painful. It lives mainly around the Balearic Islands. When touched, the animal turns a delicate pink color – and causes severe burns in humans, which can only heal slowly and leave scars. This is particularly dramatic for allergy sufferers. The jellyfish nettles can still cause blisters on their skin weeks later. The same goes for the compass jellyfish, which can be recognized by its brown stripes.

The Portuguese galley is also a cnidarian. It is also called “Floating Terror” – the name says it all. The dangerous animal is not actually native to the Mediterranean Sea, but the currents can also carry it to the waters of the Balearic Islands. On the tentacles of the Portuguese galley there are up to 1,000 stinging cells per centimetre, which contain a poisonous mixture of different proteins.

The poisonous Portuguese galley has been spotted near Mallorca’s capital, Palma. (icon picture)

© picture-alliance/ dpa / epa Nic Bothma

The poison acts directly on the nerve cells upon skin contact and can kill smaller fish and other prey – the nettle causes severe pain in humans. Contact with the tentacles leaves red wheals on the skin. The venom can also reach the lymph nodes, where it causes even greater pain. A healthy adult survives “burns” by the jellyfish without danger to life. In weakened people or people with allergies, there is a risk of an allergic shock, which in the worst case can be fatal.

Venomous and Dangerous Animals in the Mediterranean: Deadly Danger Underwater

There are also poisonous snakes under water and not only on land, whose bite can be unpleasant for people. 56 species of sea snakes are known worldwide, some of which also live in the Mediterranean. After a venom bite in humans, the first symptoms such as headaches, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness and cramps appear within a few hours. In the worst case, it can even lead to death from respiratory paralysis.

Encountering a stingray in the Mediterranean can also be quite painful. The flat cartilaginous fish has a long tail with a poisonous sting and grows up to three meters in length. The stingray defends itself against enemies with its barbed stinger. It can also cause fatal injuries to humans. However, an encounter with a stingray in the Mediterranean is rather rare and an attack usually only takes place if the animal feels threatened.

Dangerous animals in the Mediterranean: Holidaymakers should be aware of this

Barefoot walkers in particular should beware of these little creatures: sea urchins. The spines of the little animals break off if you accidentally step on them and get stuck in the skin. This causes redness at the entry point, which swells and hurts. The stinger should be removed and disinfected immediately to prevent infection.

Recently, new dangers have been spreading in the Mediterranean: The Indian lionfish, for example – if touched, there is even a risk of respiratory arrest in the worst case. The rabbit head puffer fish not only has a cute name, but also looks totally cute and harmless. But it is not harmless at all: This species of puffer fish is not only poisonous, but also has very sharp teeth that can even penetrate metal.

The general rule is: anyone who is bitten or stung by an animal in or on the Mediterranean Sea should, if possible, take note of their appearance or, if possible, take a photo. If symptoms develop, it is advisable to consult a doctor before worse symptoms develop. Because, as we have learned, a sting or bite can, in the worst case, quickly end fatally – but usually only if appropriate action is not taken.