Aquarium Injuries

Aquarium injuries?   Why is this on a scuba website?


octopus on cross logo

DAN (Divers Alert Network) Hazardous Marine Life Injuries was originally created for scuba divers due to the potential for injury whilst diving.   Aquarium workers and aquarium owners, though, can also benefit from this information.   In addition to CPR and First Aid training, you’ll be well prepared for potential problems.

What you should know:

  • First, make sure the scene is safe.   If you’re providing care to someone that is injured, make sure you don’t become a victim.   Alert EMS if needed.
  • For jellyfish, the current guidelines are to use vinegar to neutralize the sting.   Use tweezers to remove tentacles.  Don’t touch them with your bare hands!
  • For punctures from various spines, remove visible pieces with tweezers.   Immerse in hot water for 30-90 minutes (113F/45C max).
  • For bites, control bleeding with direct pressure.   Once bleeding stops, bandage the wound.  Monitor for shock and/or infection.
  • For any severe reaction or signs/symptoms of shock, alert EMS.

For anyone working with aquatic life, I highly suggest you complete a CPR/First Aid class, the DAN Hazardous Marine Life Injuries class and the DAN Emergency Oxygen course.  Combining the three, you’ll learn:

  • Scene assessment, barrier use, primary assessment of an injured person
  • CPR and Choking Management
  • Shock, Spinal Injury and Serious Bleeding Management
  • Bandaging and splinting
  • Illness and Injury management
  • How to set up and deliver emergency oxygen to an injured person using a non-rebreather mask, a demand valve, a manually-triggered ventilator and a bag-valve mask.
  • Be able to identify four types of hazardous marine life injuries, name five venomous fish and list five common signs of envenomation.
  • Be able to name at least three aquatic animals that might bite someone and list two common warning signs of a marine animal bite.
  • and much more, but the most important thing is:
  • You’ll practice how to take care of these problems

Not sure if there are many aquarium injuries?   Check out this recent article in the Journal of EMS (JEMS) about a toddler bitten by a pet piranha.

This applies to not just home aquariums with exotic fish, but can also apply to commercial aquariums.   I’ve often been told by aquarists I know that their hands are inflamed and feel odd after handling jelly fish.  Luckily, none of them have had allergic reactions to the jellyfish.

Contact me now to talk about how you can be better prepared for aquarium injuries.   If you are a diver working at an aquarium, I also teach the DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers course that also covers some skills at the healthcare-provider level.


[Also, don’t be worried about shark bites.   They’re quite rare.   Sharks have much more to fear from us than we do from them.]