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Question about Fire Coral

Houston, Texas
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Question about Fire Coral

I saw that Elletek mentioned something about Fire Coral in the sea lice discussion. My husband and I will be in Cozumel in a few months for the first time. We love to snorkel but I am a little nervous about running into fire coral. I read into it some and read that it can be very painful and last for several days sometimes. I am wondering if this is something we will likely see in shallow snorkeling water or is it more common in deeper, scuba water.

Thanks!

olive branch, ms
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1. Re: Question about Fire Coral

In my experience I have mainly found it in the deeper waters used by divers, but it could be anywhere. You can't miss fire coral when you encounter it as its white tips are easily seen underwater.

Others have reported that it is sometimes encountered under bridge pilings/supports as they make good hosts for the coral to grow on.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Question about Fire Coral

If you follow the best practise of never touching anything when you snorkel (or never getting close enough to brush up against anything) it shouldn't be a problem.

Not to sound pedantic, but it appears a lot of people (and TV commercial directors) dont know that you're not supposed to touch the coral, put your feet or fins down on the coral, drag your dive gear along behind you on the coral....

If you google "fire coral + photos" something should come up

Littleton, Colorado
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3. Re: Question about Fire Coral

I did see fire coral every time I went in the water, on ropes, on piers, on the fence around the stingray prison. it was everywhere. It seems like a parasite to me, just attaching anywhere to survive.

This photo was shot in two feet of water.

https:/…

Remember, do not touch anything. Coral is alive and when humans touch it, it can die. Watch where you are going and pay attention to the current to avoid being pushed into anything.

Fire Coral Cuts Treatment

The following guidelines are suggested to treat fire coral cuts:

* Rinse with seawater. Avoid fresh water because it will increase pain.

* Apply topical acetic acid (vinegar) or isopropyl alcohol.

* Remove tentacles with tweezers.

* Immobilize the extremity because movement may cause the venom to spread.

* Apply hydrocortisone cream 2-3 times daily as needed for itching. Discontinue immediately if any signs of infection appear.

If the person who has come into contact with fire coral develops shortness of breath; swelling in the tongue, face, or throat; or other signs of an allergic reaction, treat for an allergic reaction. If no signs of allergic reaction are present, pain may be relieved with 1-2 tablets of acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 4 hours and/or 1-2 tablets of ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) every 6-8 hours.

Dallas
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4. Re: Question about Fire Coral

My first thought also, was to post, "don't touch anything."

I realize there are times when in currents you might possibly get pushed on something, but that's normally divers.

I will add to Elletek's comments. If anyone gets stung by anything and your tongue starts swelling, immediately take a Benadryl and if swelling keeps getting worse, see a doctor, because you could be in trouble.

Benadryl is another item to put on your list of travels to Cozumel.

The Colony, Texas
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5. Re: Question about Fire Coral

We usually stay on the north side condos where you jump into deep water but use a ladder to get back up. A few years ago my nephew got scraped on the knee with some going up the ladder at Miramar condos. He used some vinegar and said it stung and felt on fire for awhile - but was fine the next day. We all used caution the next time we used the ladder.

Cozumel Island
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6. Re: Question about Fire Coral

Claritin taken orally will clear up fire coral problems in a few hours.

I have never heard of a sting or a cut by fire coral getting any worse than whatever happens during the original encounter. Some deep stings and/or cuts can be inflammed and take a long time to heal.

Doctors not familiar with diving or those who work well away from the sea will rarely know a fire coral injury when they see it or how to treat it. If you get stung really bad and feel you need a doctor I would see one on the island as they all have a huge amount of experience with diving and dive related injuries.

Fire coral can grow on almost anything. I have seen hermit crabs. living in conch shells, walking around with fire coral encrusted on their backs.

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7. Re: Question about Fire Coral

I encountered fire coral while snorkeling in Cozumel. I was at Fiesta Americana and the current was strong. I decided to get out near the dock rather than fight the current. As I was trying to get out I got pushed up against the base of the cement stairs. At first I just thought I got cut on something, but when I got out of the water the stinging and pain intensified. I immediately rinsed off with fresh water (now I know that a NO, NO). Didn't think much of it. Then someone saw it and said it was fire coral. It was on my entire thigh, from knee to hip. I then rinsed with vinegar and iodine. It was almost instant relief. However, I didn't know to immobolize. So I continued to snorkel, kayak and paddleboat until it was time to clean up and get ready to board the plane home. I was feeling much better, the area was still red and a little itchy, but not bad. Then 3 days after being home it flaired back up and was more painful than when it first happened. I couldn't sleep for a couple of nights. I think I bought every topical treatment I could think of but nothing helped. I had read earlier in my internet searches that it could flair up again, for months. So at this point I was really concerned it may never go away. Finally, in the middle of the night I couldn't stand it any longer and started an intensive search on the internet on a cure. At this point I was willing to try just about anything. Anyways, I read about a guy who applied a urine/baking soda mixture to the wound. I wasn't willing to use urine, but I did mix up some baking soda and water mixure. It was very soothing putting it on. I let it dry and then washed it off. No more pain!!! I finally began to heal, and it never flaired up again.

But even after all of this, I would go back and snorkel Cozumel again in a heartbeat. I will just be much more aware of my surrounding and only get out in designated areas.

I guess a piece of Cozumel just wanted to come home with me.

Good luck and just be careful. It's a beautiful underwater world!!

The Colony, Texas
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8. Re: Question about Fire Coral

Thanks for the tip about the baking soda ! Different people react to things differently. My nephew was able to shake it off same day. I'm prone to get allergic reactions to everything ! I get more than 3 or 4 mosquito bites and I am ill ! So I like to know everything I can about the possibilities and home remedies. Never know when it will come in handy !

Houston, Texas
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9. Re: Question about Fire Coral

Thanks Everyone for all the useful info. We know not to touch things in the water. But when we snorkeled in the virgin islands I remember one specific day, the currents pushing us into coral in the shallow water. Sounds like the majority of the snorkel areas in Cozumel are pretty calm.

We are so excited about this trip. I read the forums everyday for new ideas and advise!

Cozumel, Mexico
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10. Re: Question about Fire Coral

It is interesting that vinegar is the "neutralizer" for this as it is for sea lice, sea urchins and jelly fish.

I see this coral in a number of places, but I've never bothered to learn what it is. Guess I've been lucky all these years and haven't bumped into it.