Harpooned by a Snail? Whatever Next?

I have mentioned cone snails before on this website and I have a video about them on my page called Dangerous Creatures of Australia: More Bad Things! On the same page you will also see a list of some of our other dangerous sea life.

I think it’s fair to say that danger lurks in all oceans around the world and there certainly isn’t any sea off the coast of Australia that could be regarded as ‘safe’. The sea is a dangerous place.

If a critter doesn’t get you, you could drown, which is why I always recommend swimming between the flags here in Australia.

But whilst the sea in general is dangerous, I think it’s fair to say that subtropical and tropical seas are significantly more dangerous and for us here in Australia that pretty much means anything Brisbane and above, or to give it its technical term, north.

The cone snail

Cone snailWhat’s really irritating about the cone snail though is that you don’t even need to be swimming in the sea to get nailed by this critter, just walking barefoot in shallow waters is enough. That is all that 25-year-old Henry Moore was doing when he was harpooned by a snail cone as he walked along a beach on Whitsunday Island earlier this week.

Fortunately for him he was very quickly airlifted by RACQ CQ helicopter and taken to Mackay Base Hospital for treatment and he is now making a full recovery…

recoveringIt was just immense, immense pain. I was convulsing in pain. I was screaming in agony.” he said.

Mr Moore is going to be just fine, but these things can kill. When I last looked into this kind of thing, which would have been in 2011 for my page called Australia’s Killer Creatures and Death I could find no evidence of cone snail related deaths here in Australia.

According to University of Queensland chemistry professor David Craik only 36 people have died as a result of a cone snail sting in the last 90 years; I assume these deaths took place in countries where they do not have the benefit of helicopters coming to the rescue.

Fortunately for us in Australia and for Henry Moore, we do.

This is a public information film

One of the problems with cone snails is they have such pretty looking shells. Any parent who has walked along the beaches with any of their children will know that pretty shells are magnets to kids. Pick up one of these pretty shells though and you could be on the wrong end of a very painful harpooning.

So if ever you’re strolling along a subtropical or tropical beach with your kids, it may be a good idea to keep an eye on them, maybe even warn them about picking up those pretty shells.

Here’s a video which will help you identify this critter…

Yes, the cone snail is certainly something to watch out for, but to put it into perspective, it’s a lot less dangerous than horses, cows and dogs.

Sources: Facebook, Brisbane Times, ABC Online.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • djmcbell June 15, 2015, 9:06 pm |

    Ah, Australia… where even the snails attack you with harpoons.

    Now rethinking the attempt to emigrate.

    • BobinOz June 16, 2015, 4:54 pm |

      What next? Poisonous toads? Oh, just remembered, we’ve already got those as well 🙂

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