• Sea Anemones

    Giant Sea Anemone: not considered toxic, may produce a mild skin irritation.

    Corkscew Sea Anemone : considered  "mildly toxic" and will sting areas of sensitive skin.

    Knobby Sea Anemone : "Toxic" and will sting any bare skin.

    Sun Sea Anemone : "Toxic"  will sting bare skin and could cause blistering.


    Fire corals are so named because the tiny coral polyp's tentacles deliver stinging "nematocysts" that penetrate the skin. These cause an intense burning sensation that lasts for several minutes. Do NOT rub the area with fresh water or soap. Doing so can activate any un-triggered nematocysts.  Soaking the area in vinegar or sprinkling with meat tenderizer can neutralize the effects.


    Many jellyfish are not toxic, others can produce redness and welts, a few are highly toxic and can cause muscle cramps, difficulty breathing, and the victim may have to be treated for shock. The hard part  is being able to recognize and remember which are and which are not toxic. Fortunately, highly toxic jellyfish are only occasion visitors to the area.  The safest way to avoid being stung is to simply be aware of their possible presence and  avoid all contact. 

    Touch me not Sponge


    The Touch-Me-Not sponge is not found in shallow (less than 5 feet) water, but deserves mentioning. Contact with bare skin can cause severe allergic reaction that can include pain, redness, swelling and rash that can last for three to seven days. Soak in vinegar and sprinkle with meat tenderizer to relieve the symptoms apply hydrocortisone ointment. SEVER reactions are also possible: difficulty breathing may require oral anti-histamines and medical attention.

  • Volcano / Fire Sponge

    Volcano / Fire Sponge

    Inhabit turtle grass beds and attach to mangrove roots. Contact with bare skin can cause severe allergic reaction that can include pain, redness, swelling and rash that can last for three to seven days. Soak in vinegar and sprinkle with meat tenderizer to relieve the symptoms. Apply hydrocortisone ointment.


    When disturbed the worm extends white bristles from each body segment. These can easily penetrate the skin and cause a severe burning sensation and wound. You can use some sort of adhesive tape or duct-tape to remove the bristles and use vinegar or rubbing alcohol to alleviate some of the pain.


    Sea Urchins are everywhere.  If you are in the water often enough, chances are some part of your body will get urchin spines in it.  The initial sting is short lived.  The site of the penetration looks worse than it really is.  Any entrance point will turn white with a black center.  DO NOT TRY AND REMOVE THE SPINES. They are exceedingly brittle.  Soak area with warm vinegar 4 times a day. The spines will dissolve after a few days. I take Benadryl to control any itchiness.


    Unfortunately, this invader has reached the Virgin Islands. Efforts are underway to limit the damage this invasive species will do.  Females can lay 15,000 eggs every several days.  It can ingest food that is 3/4 is own size. With very few  natural predators, there's nothing to stop this species. Our entire reef ecosystem is in danger of collapse. The Lionfish is also toxic. Venom from their fin rays can cause vomiting, fever and sweating ,and has been lethal in a few cases. 

    We ask that whenever you are in the water, take a lionfish marker with you. If you see a Lionfish, drop the marker  at location. Then report the sighting to one of the dive shops or email to


    Stingray are not known to be aggressive, but they do have one or two venomous spines at the base of their tail. Generally, they go about their business seemingly undisturbed by your presence.  Most encounters in the shallows will be with the smaller, young rays, so just be careful.


    What was said about the stingray holds true for the Spotted Eagle Ray.  Always keep in mind that these are WILD ANIMALS with the ability and the instinct to defend themselves.

    Nurse Shark


     The shark most often seen is the docile nurse shark. They are easily recognized by their broad flat head, small mouth and the two barbels on their upper lip. Their two dorsal fins are set way back and the tail fin has no distinct lower lobe.  Other sharks like the Black Tip are seen around the island infrequently and with no consistency. The chances of a dangerous shark encounter are almost non-existent.


    Of even more concern than sharks is boat traffic. Always be aware of your surroundings, stay within buoyed areas. If venturing outside of these area, or beaches that are not buoyed, keep an ear open for the sounds of approaching watercraft.