Sunday, December 17, 2006

No Cucumber for Me, Either!

This picture on Ugly Overload prompted me to write about what not to do while scuba diving in Jamaica. Or anywhere, for that matter.

I was following the dive master pretty closely while diving last month, and I saw him pick up a big squishy looking thing from the ocean floor. It was a sea cucumber. He put it back down and moved on. So what do I do? Well, I just swam on over and picked it up too. If the dive master jumped off a bridge, I guess I should follow him over.

Actually, it was all good until about 2 days after I returned home. I noticed that my hand was itching pretty badly. The next day the whole side of my hand was swollen, lumpy and itching. Also, two finger tips on my other hand were having the same reaction. After surfing the web extensively for what could be wrong with my hand (cow itch? jellyfish? starfish?) it dawned on me that I had handled the sea cucumber. I had no idea they were poisonous/stinging/evil. Well, they are. So that whole "don't mess with the flora and fauna while you're diving" thing wasn't just a mere suggestion...it's a really good freakin' idea!

It's been about 5 weeks, and those areas on my hands are still not 100% healed. I can't believe it's taking so long! About 8 or 9 days into the inflammation, I THINK that little microscopic short black hair-like things were being pushed out of my skin during the night. It kind of looked like lint fibers, but I only saw them on the surface of my skin where the wound was. Weird. I couldn't find anything on the internet about the types of injuries that sea cucumbers can inflict, so maybe this post will help the next dumb S.O.B. that does what I did! Live and learn. Happy diving...and please don't hassle the cucumbers!

I'm glad you liked the photo. I had a similar experience diving in Mexico. Our divemaster picked up a crown of thorns (a species of seastar), so I did the same. Difference: she had gloves, I didn't. I felt a prick, and then green fluid began to leak out of my finger tip. I freaked out, thinking it was a toxin, but it was just my red blood being discolored by the blue water. I'm a genius.

A different divemaster told us how he was on a dive when one of his students swam over to him, clutching a bleeding finger. It turned out that the student had put his finger into the mouth of a 'cute' pufferfish, and it had bitten the tip off. Another smart one.
Yo, I've tagged you for a meme, if you're interested.
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