Tap to Read ➤

Things You Should Know About Dangerous Fire Corals

Sonia Nair Mar 12, 2019
Though not true corals, fire corals resemble the former in appearance. They are infamous for their stings, that can cause immense pain and discomfort.
Even though fire corals and true corals share the same phylum, the former is not a true coral. The fire coral belongs to the family Milleporidae and genus Millipora. They are closely related to jellyfish and certain types of stinging sea anemones.
There are around twelve species of the fire coral, that are named after their stinging characteristics. It has also been contended that there are numerous species and subspecies of this organism. Fire coral stings are associated with severe pain and burning sensation, that may last for a few days.

Physical Features

The fire coral is usually found in both tropical and subtropical waters, attached to underwater rocks or coral reefs. They can be found at depths that can range from one meter to 40 meters. The color of a fire coral may range from greenish-yellow to brown, with white edges.
They can also be found in different forms. Some of them have branches, like fingertips, whereas some others are found as calcareous stone-like structures, that are formed through encrusting.
You may also find fire corals with plate-like branches, as seen in lettuce coral. This marine organism is often mistaken for seaweed, and this is one of the reasons, why people get stung by them, while diving or swimming.
In these corals, defensive polyps develop around the feeding polyp. These defensive polyps have numerous small nematocysts (venomous cells) with tentacles, and these structures are responsible for their sting. Apart from the sting, the calcified rough external surfaces, and the sharp edges of this coral may also cause damage to the skin.

Fire Coral Sting

These corals can inflict painful stings, and the symptoms develop within five to 30 minutes. Symptoms include moderate to severe pain, along with a burning sensation. The person may develop skin rash within a short time. The rash may or may not be associated with itching. Some people may experience swelling of lymph nodes, nausea, and vomiting.
In case of a fire coral sting, rinse the affected part with sea water, as use of fresh water may increase the pain. Vinegar or isopropyl alcohol can be applied over the area. Make sure to remove the tentacles embedded in the skin. This can be done with tweezers.
In case of allergic reactions, like breathing trouble, swelling of tongue, lips, etc., immediate medical attention must be sought. It is always better to keep the person as still as possible, as any type of movement may result in spreading of the venom.
Usually, these stings are treated with pain killers and antihistamines. However, contact a health care provider and follow his instructions, rather than resorting to self treatment.
As fire coral stings are associated with immense pain and discomfort, it is always better to take preventive measures. This can be done by wearing a wet suit, or a whole body Lycra suit.
You must also take care to avoid skin contact with any marine organism, or underwater rocks and other things. Even if you get stung, the symptoms will disappear within a few days, if there is no infection. In order to minimize the risk of infection, refrain from scratching the area.