From Panama Jack — August 26, 2016 at 5:00 am

Caribbean Dive Destination Safety Tips

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caribbean dive

©istockphoto/shevtsovy

The Caribbean is undeniably one of the best diving destinations in the world; in the Cayman Islands you can swim with stingrays, and Belize boasts the second largest barrier reef in the world. The exotic underwater world is mesmerizing, but fraught with hidden dangers. Most of us are familiar with the danger associated with large sea creatures such as barracudas, moray eels, and sharks. However, not everyone is aware of some of the most unusual types of marine life that bite, sting, are poisonous, or cause skin irritations.

Travelers that come to swim, snorkel and dive the intriguing waters of the Caribbean should always bear in mind that we are merely visitors in the marine environment. Just as one would on land, it is important to treat the ocean with respect.

Do Your Research
No matter where you dive in the Caribbean, it is wise to find out about any marine dangers such as areas to steer clear of, and updates on riptides, currents and shark or jellyfish sightings. If you follow basic ocean safety guideline, you will enjoy your dive destination vacation and return home with only wonderful memories and in one piece.

Sunblock
Be sure to pack plenty of sunblock. A severe sunburn can turn a happy vacation into one of misery. Remember, the sun’s rays are reflected back off the water, intensifying your sun expose. If you are snorkeling with you back to the sun for hours, it is easy to become badly burned on your shoulders, neck, back of the ears, and upper torso.

Foot Protection
When entering the ocean, always wear protective footgear to avoid foot cuts and scrapes from coral and stings from marine life found in shallow waters.

Chat it Up
Talk to the dive master to inquire about the primary marine organisms you are likely to encounter. Your swim, snorkeling or dive adventures will be more relaxed if you are aware of which creatures to be on the lookout for.

Review guidebooks to become acquainted with local marine fauna. It is wise not to touch any unknown plant life or marine creature. Many can sting the skin or cause a rash. They may be severe in persons with allergies or skin sensitivity issues.

Don’t Touch Beached Creatures
People get in trouble, and most dive accidents happen in deep water, but danger can lurk in shallow water or even on the beach. Avoid touching shells, jellyfish or other marine creatures that have washed up on the beach. Remember the “golden rule”! It is always wise to look, but do not touch.

If you do encounter a sea creature or get into difficulty or are bitten or stung by a marine animal, don’t panic. Try to stay calm. Most encounters do not result in serious danger or injury, in fact, you are much more likely to be injured driving to the marina, then when in the water.

Just remember to practice safety first, then relax and enjoy the wonders of the waters and the delights of the Caribbean.

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