Dangerous Waters

The Most Dangerous Aquatic Animals of Africa

The continent of Africa is home to thousands of different types of animals. While Africa is home to many harmless animals, it is also home to many dangerous animals. Read on to learn about some of the most dangerous aquatic animals that are found throughout Africa. Learn facts about the animals as well as statistics on injuries and deaths.

Weever Fish

Weever fish are long brown fish that have poisonous spines on their gills and dorsal fin. They spend the majority of their time buried in the sand underwater, waiting for prey to come along so they can snatch it. These fish are likely to come into contact with humans, as they tend to bury themselves in shallow water where swimmers are located. Weever stings can even penetrate wetsuits and can cause symptoms ranging from severe pain, swelling, redness, nausea, to more severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, and even seizures. While weever stings are known to be extremely painful they are not generally fatal and medical attention only needs to be sought by those experiencing severe symptoms.

Blowfish

Blowfish are generally small to medium in size and are only found in warm waters. Blowfish contain a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin; this poison can be found in the liver, skin, muscle, and intestine of blowfish. Blowfish poisoning can occur two ways, by getting stung or by consuming wrongly prepared blowfish. The toxins found in blowfish can be fatal if not treated immediately. Symptoms of blowfish poisoning include weakness, headache, loss of coordination, and in severe cases mortality. Some studies have shown that mortality rates from blowfish can be as high as 50%.

Piranha

Everyone has probably heard of piranha. They are omnivorous fish that live in freshwater, and are known for their very sharp teeth and big appetite for meat. Piranhas will occasionally bite swimmers and bathers but, while their bite can be painful and cause injury, they are not known to cause death. Many myths state that piranhas will attack and eat humans, however, studies have shown that this is not true.

Needlefish

Needlefish have narrow, long jaws full of sharp teeth. Needlefish can be dangerous to humans because they have the ability to jump out of the water at a speed of 38 miles per hour. The long sharp jaw is capable of inflicting deep wounds and can even break off inside the victim when this happens. In places where needlefish are found, they tend to cause more injuries than sharks. While needlefish are dangerous, only two deaths have ever been recorded.

Saltwater Crocodiles

Saltwater crocodiles are the largest of all reptiles. Saltwater crocodiles have much broader bodies than other types of crocodiles which leads them to be mistaken for alligators often. Fully grown saltwater crocodiles weigh approximately 1,000 pounds. Saltwater crocodiles are considered opportunistic predators, meaning that they will take nearly any animal that enters their territory, including humans. While it is known that saltwater crocodiles have caused fatalities, comprehensive data on the numbers is not available.

Great White Shark

Great white sharks are found in all major oceans, including off the coast of Africa. Great whites can exceed 20 feet in length and weigh more than 5,000 pounds. Great white sharks have killed humans, but generally do not target them. Most great white attacks seem to be “test attacks”, meaning that once they identify what they bit as a human they will let go. Another cause of great white attacks seems to be mistaken identity, where a shark will attack a surfer from below thinking it is a seal or other type of animal. It has been said that great white sharks will not consume humans even after having bitten them because their digestion is too slow to deal with all of the bones in the human body. According to statistics, sharks kill between 10 and 20 people each year.

Hippopotamus

Hippos are the third largest land mammals in the world. They are considered semi-aquatic animals and spend a good deal of time in lakes, rivers, and swaps. Hippos are very territorial animals and attacks generally occur when they feel their territory is being threatened. Hippos are very large animals that can weigh upwards of three tons, but despite their large size they are very fast runners. Hippos have been recorded running up to 19 miles per hour over short distances. Hippos are actually considered one of the most aggressive animals in the world and are easily one of the most dangerous animals found in Africa. According to statistics, hippos kill over 300 people each year.

Stingray

There are many species of stingray, some of which can be found in the waters around Africa. Stingrays are related to sharks and are identifiable by their barbed stings and flat bodies. The underside of a stingray features two venom glands. Stingrays are very common in warm coastal waters. They are not known to attack humans and stings generally only occur if the stingrays are accidentally stepped on. Stings from rays can cause local trauma including swelling, pain, and muscle cramps. These symptoms result from the venom. Stingray injuries are very painful but are normally not fatal unless the stinger pierces the body. When this happens the barb, or stinger, usually snaps off in the wound and surgery is required to remove it.