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Poison of the Sea - Jellyfish & Pufferfish
The ocean is home to many beautiful and amazing creatures. Wouldnít it be wonderful to swim beneath its tranquil waters and gaze at them up close? But just as the oceanís waters are not forever tranquil, neither are its inhabitants always the kind you want to be near. They may be spectacular to look at, but the bite or touch of many of them can be deadly.
Jellyfish with their long, flowing tentacles and almost transparent bodies are beautiful. Surely they are harmless. They have no brain, heart, bones, or eyes, and their bodies are 95% water. How in the world could they be a danger to people? Don't be deceived. If you are stung by a jellyfish it can be extremely painful, even deadly.
The box jellyfish is not a creature you want to bump into when you are in its ocean home. These deadly animals have an easy time hunting. Actually, they usually donít hunt, they just hang around and wait for prey to bump into their tentacles. So you donít have to worry about a box jellyfish coming after you, but you donít want to bump into one. The poison they inject is so strong that your chances of survival are very slim.
I have never been stung by a jellyfish, but from what Iíve read and heard, the sting from a box jellyfish is so excruciatingly painful that you will be lucky to make it back to shore if one stings you while you are swimming in the ocean. Chances are you will go into shock and drown. If you do make it back to shore, you will likely go into cardiac arrest. If you are one of the few lucky ones that survive a severe sting, necrosis will probably set in. That means it will eat the skin away around the area you were stung.
How could you use this in your fiction? Well, letís see. What if the intended victim were thrown into an area of ocean that box jellyfish were known to inhabit? His chances of escape would be very slim indeed. Or maybe your murderer secretly raises box jellyfish for when he has need of them to do away with people. What kind of person would he be, and why would have the need to do away with people so often that he would raise these venomous creatures?
Pufferfish are also known as swellfish or balloonfish, so it isnít really hard to figure out how they got their name. These fish will swallow huge amounts of air or water and inflate themselves to escape predators. Even if a predator is lucky enough to snag a pufferfish, he wonít feel lucky for very long. Heíll be dead. Tetrodotoxin is the substance in pufferfish that is deadly. This substance is 1200 times more poisonous than cyanide, so you can imagine the fish that eats one will die a very painful death.
There is enough toxin in one pufferfish to kill thirty humans. This toxin is also supposed to give the fish a foul taste, so why anyone would want to dine on one is beyond me. Yet the meat of the pufferfish, called fugu, is considered a delicacy in Japan. Few chefs know how to properly cut and prepare it so that the one eating is doesnít die. It is also extremely expensive.
Your mind should already be racing with possibilities of how to use the pufferfish in your writing. You could have someone pretend to be a chef trained to prepare fugu. He doesnít think heíll actually have to cook any, but then someone comes into the restaurant and orders it. What does he do? And why did he choose to pretend to be a chef who could prepare this delicacy? What is he running from?
If you choose to use one of these creatures in your writing, please research it more thoroughly. There is so much more information about the jellyfish and the pufferfish that I didn't have room to share with you.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lisa Binion. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lisa Binion for details.
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