30 November 2005
Fire corals are so called because of their powerful
stinging hairs or nematocysts. These are used primarily
for defence against fish like parrotfish which would
otherwise nibble the coral. However, they are strong
enough to injure divers who brush their skin against
them, causing burning and itching. If this happens
rinse with seawater and apply vinegar or methylated
alcohol on the affected area. In a severe case
anti-histamines can help, but seek medical advice.
Colonies of fire coral are extremely important in building
coral reefs. However, they are not true corals. They are,
in fact, hydroids. The word hydroid means water animals.
Other hydroids often look like ferny fronds growing from
rocks. The fire coral is different: it looks like a hard
Fire corals are yellowish to brown in colour, often with
white tips. There are several species, with different
growth forms. Some look like plates, some are encrusting
but maybe the most familiar is the branching form shown in
our photo (http://www.scubatravel.co.uk/firecoral.html).
You can identify them by the minute pores on the coral
Divers come across fire corals on reefs throughout the
world, in sheltered and exposed sites, in shallow and
deep water. They are often at the reef edge as they can
withstand rough waters. Look at the orientation of the
coral branches: they grow so as to minimise their
exposure to the waves.
The Red Sea in Egypt Part II, Farid S. Atiya, 977-00-6697-4
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Hope this helps,
I too was stung by this so called fire coral whilst at the Red Sea. The affected area on the back of my thigh is the size of my hand. My instructer immediately placed lime and lemon juice over the area. Within a few hours the swelling, which appeared like blistering reduced. However, since then (2 weeks) the area remains extremely itchy and feels very hard under the skin, almost resembling large mosquito bites. The affected area remains rather visible and is yet to heal. I have commenced using cortisone cream in the hope that this will reduce the swelling and affected area, although I am not overly convinced that this is of any use. Further, I have found that in the heat, and heavy scented creams have only aggravated the area and made it more itchy. It is a nightmare, like an itchy mosquito bite that never goes away. My advice to any first time snorkelers, look but dont touch, avoid wedging yourself into the coral to defog your snorkel and have a competent instructer who firstly speaks your language and can warn you of the dangers prior to you experiencing it first hand as I did. So, all in all I am yaet to discover a solution to reduce the swelling. Ciao for now...
For the rest of the day my legs felt like they were on fire with constant pins and needles, i thought i'd be ok not to see a doctor.
Evening came and i tried to get to sleep at 11pm but the burn was so intense i didn't fall asleep until 1am i was so close to calling a doctor but i thought if i can fall asleep by the morning hopefully the pain would be less.
The morning came and my legs were still painful and very very tender to the touch, but the burning sensation had reduced.
My chest had the same sensations but not quite as bad as my legs.
2 days later i now have no burn sensation but the affected areas have a red rash type appearance and are still a little tender to the touch, about the pain if you had a bruise and pushed it.
Hopefully the "rash" will gradually go and all will be well.
I will not ever want to come ino contact with that stuff again!!!!
Ouch! that was about as much pain as i could stand.
I really am confused...
why has it appeared again, and 4 months later...
i dont know if my doctor here knows anything about it.
I started looking up symptoms and treatments, and after reading about hour the ijuries can last for months, and even spring up on occasion months later, I am dreading it. I had been soooo careful, withought even being told to be careful in the ocean, and all that had to happen was my extra regulator getting caught, and now I will have montch of continuous itching!
When you take someone diving or snorkling, please inform them all you know about fire coral, like what to watch for and things like that, or just simply tell them not to touch anything, cause they may not know and then they may end up with something very long lasting and very painful (cause they do hurt if you scratch them too much!)
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