Deadliest Swim Vacations

by Aefa Mulholland Subscribe to Aefa Mulholland's posts Posted May 18th 2010 04:30 PM


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Deadliest Swim Vacations

Everyone wants to hit the water for summer vacation. But there are plenty of places where you should think twice before taking a dip -- it might be your last. The water may look fine, but there are dangers underwater and on the surface. After 2010's succession of shark, jellyfish, and crocodile attacks, travelers wanting to cool off this summer would be wise to take extra care in these locations. Read on for the most dangerous waters in the world.

Deadliest Swim Vacations

Danger: The deadly cast of critters that inhabit the waters of Queensland include box jellyfish, cone shells, blue-ringed octopus, scorpion fish, and the tiny, but venomous, irukandji jellyfish. While encounters with any of these are unpleasant, the box jellyfish is responsible for the closure of dozens of beaches every year. The species has the deadliest venom of all marine creatures and 100 to 200 people are killed by them every year. This sea wasp can grow up to ten feet long and its stings can be fatal.

Survival strategy: Stay out of the water when you see a jellyfish warning sign and wear a full-body protective "stinger suit" when swimming, snorkeling, or diving.

Deadliest Swim Vacations

Danger: One of four particularly vicious shark types along with the bull shark, the tiger shark, and the oceanic whitetip, the great white has the most fearsome reputation. This comes courtesy of scaremongering films such as "JAWS" and statistics that credit the up-to-20-feet-long beasts with more than 25% of fatal U.S. shark attacks in the last ten years. Although the International Shark Attack File states that the odds of being killed by a shark are 1:264.1 million, they are significantly higher at Bolinas Beach. The popular surfing beach in Northern California, is part of the infamous "Red Triangle" where packs of the vast sharks assemble to feast on sea lions.

Survival strategy: Don't swim at dawn, dusk, or at night and never wear shiny jewelry. It's best not to swim alone and never, ever get in the water if you are bleeding.

Deadliest Swim Vacations

Danger: Home to a menagerie of wild, weird, and wonderful creatures, the Amazon Basin holds even more reasons to stay out of the water than Queensland. The vast river system boasts electric eels, caimans, fanged leeches, the infamous candiru parasite, and voracious red-bellied piranhas. With blade-like teeth that interlock as they devour their prey alive, the slightest drop of blood sends these toothy terrors into a feeding frenzy -- and one inquisitive bite from a member of the shoal could be all it takes to set them off.

Survival strategy: Never swim with any open wounds. Don't enter piranha-infested waters during dry season when they are hungry. If in water with piranhas, walk with smooth strides and don't splash. Piranhas are particularly attracted by activity.

Deadliest Swim Vacations

Danger: There's more than a never-ending oil spill that presents danger to swimmers here. Brown with ominous black markings, the cottonmouth water moccasin is one of 20 venomous snakes found in the U.S. Unfortunate swimmers or boaters may encounter them on rocks or in the water alongside them in the rivers, swamps, ponds, and lakes of the Carolinas and the Gulf Coast. The Cottonmouth's bite can be fatal in as little as two hours.

Survival strategy: Don't swim or drift under overhanging branches -- a sunning snake might drop into the water when they detect movement. Get a set of reptile grips if boating in an area populated by Cottonmouths and carry a snakebite kit. Exercise extra serpent vigilance on hot humid days. If bitten, get immediate medical attention.

Deadliest Swim Vacations

Danger: If you want to take a dip in the world's most dangerous swimming hole, head for the Devil's Pool. The precarious natural pool is perched on the brim of Victoria Falls has earned the nickname Smoke That Thunders from locals. Just a low, slippery lip keeps the water -- and daredevil bathers -- from plummeting the 360 feet to the churning waters below. At least one person goes overboard every year.

Survival strategy: Don't even contemplate this ultimate infinity-edge pool during the rainy season. The odds of escaping unscathed are better from September through December when currents aren't quite strong enough to sweep those who are brave enough to jump in over the edge.

Deadliest Swim Vacations

Danger: Venomous giant centipedes as long as your arm! Razor-sharp coral! Hungry sharks! Deadly jellyfish! Mosquitoes! Toxic ants! Poisonous caterpillars! Scorpion fish! Leeches! Thailand has a kaleidoscopic array of creatures ready to attempt to ruin your vacation. This last water-loving inconvenience is particularly prevalent in Thailand's ponds and lakes. They actively swim toward any disturbance, so are hard to avoid.

Survival strategy: Leeches absolutely hate tobacco. If you're bitten, pouring tobacco-filled water over the bug should cause it to let go. Don't attempt to simply pull the leech off your skin -- this causes the insect to release toxins.

Deadliest Swim Vacations

Danger: The number on the hand-carved sign that tallies up the number of people who have died at this idyllic-seeming, two-mile-long beach on Kauai's northern Na Pali coast currently reads 82. Notorious for its deadly riptides, currents, and shore breaks, Hanakapiai's waves can be huge, sudden, and strong. They can sweep away those merely wading up to their knees.

Survival strategy: Here the advice is to absolutely stay out of the water -- and far from the water's edge. Huge waves can suddenly surge and crash far up the beach.

Deadliest Swim Vacations

Danger: The Nile crocodile -- the most dangerous of the crocodile family -- lurks nearly submerged on the banks of Egypt's famed river. Up to 500,000 are estimated to live along the Nile Corridor, lying in wait in water as shallow as one foot. This is one of the only crocodiles to view humans as prey and hundreds of people in Sub-Saharan Africa are killed by Nile crocodiles. The opportunistic predator can live up to 100 years and grow up to 20-feet long. Another very good reason to keep your hands in the boat when exploring the Nile is Lake Nasser's tiger fish, a ferocious first cousin of the piranha -- but way bigger.

Survival strategy: Don't swim, paddle, or go close to the water's edge in a crocodile zone -- the beasts can launch themselves out of water in a flash. Run fast and in a straight line if you encounter a crocodile. They can only run swiftly for about 30 feet before tiring. But they are persistent animals. If camping, never collect water from the same spot every day since crocodiles quickly cotton onto such patterns. Climbing a tree won't work either. A croc can wait several weeks without food, especially if it thinks dinner is merely a few branches above.

Deadliest Swim Vacations

Danger: Pollution is the reason to stay away from 20,000 of the country's bay, ocean, and Great Lakes beaches according to the annual survey of water quality by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Florida's Shired Island won the ignominious honor of being America's most polluted beach in 2009 by failing water tests 90% of times examined. With unwanted souvenirs such as skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis, hepatitis, and gastrointestinal illnesses courtesy of waterborne illnesses, beach pollution is responsible for a slew of illnesses that could prove fatal.

Survival strategy: Check the NRDC's site for beach results by state before you pack the beach blanket.

Deadliest Swim Vacations

Filed Under: Beach, Tips & Tricks

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white folks

In NEW YORK where we grew up I would remember at least twice a year at the beach needle syringes coming a shore, now that was dangerous! and I have heard it has only gotten worse. I went to the greatest beaches in the world (California) and have never been happier!!!

September 05 2010 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it was a great source of information, so what if a few of the facts are wrong. Look deeper did anyone learn alittle something reguardless?? Well I did!! The croc,most people would climb a tree I had no idea it could go for weeks without food then lay in wait for you!! Creepy!! Saw that movie!! The Hippo WOW did not know that. The sharks well that's a given and yes I saw jaws and yes it turned me off to going in the water. But my earth sign is fire, I love to sit by the water it calms my inner flame!!:) It's nice to know that if I ever explore the Nile not to put my hand in the water!! I think it was a great articile as for the question that started all this fuss maybe the arrows did not pop up with the pics!! Worst has happened on these wonderful boxes that allow you to be transported to another place and time!!

August 21 2010 at 9:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow! I can't believe some of you are so nasty. The person just asked a question of people who are more computer savvy then they are.

July 27 2010 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, the Saltwater Crocodile, which is prevalent in Indonesia and Australia is the most deadly of all crocodilians, not the Nile Croc. Salties get up to 23 feet long, which has been confirmed by the Guiness book of World Records. It's definately not a good idea to even go swimming ANYWHERE in Australia, though.

July 03 2010 at 11:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Opie Griffith

You know when Aunt Bee Crapped in the New Hotel pool by the Big city I thought all the people in the Pool were going to Barf their guts out.I never forget the look on ole Pas face when he saw that gusher of Crap come of Aunt Bee and hit Barney in the face and all over the pool.Golly that waS A dOOZY...yEA bOY .

June 02 2010 at 2:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hey hey


May 27 2010 at 8:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is giant shark but information is lacking.

May 26 2010 at 4:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rooftop Voter

To start, press any key...........Where's the "any key?"

May 24 2010 at 6:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The cottonmouth is not a great danger. Although its bite is painful it almost never causes human fatalities. In an average year there are less than 10 snakebite deaths in the US, all from large rattlesnakes, and most bites are to people who are deliberately handling them.

May 24 2010 at 5:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to paul_k_666's comment

Correct me if I'm wrong, Paul_k_666, but a Cottonmouth is a water moccasin, and therefore lives in and around the water. A Rattlesnake lives in the forest and woods, with some species living in the desert. This article was about the most dangerous places to swim. Therefore, a Rattlesnake wouldn't be mentioned, would it?
And there is nothing scarier than seeing the slithering back and forth of a water moccasin swimming near the shore of a lake. I think that the author should have had a picture of the snake with its mouth open, showing the white inside of the mouth, hence the name Cottonmouth.

June 01 2010 at 5:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Better to be someone who overlooks a simple Internet menu feature (perhaps new to this sort of thing or just distracted) than to be the kind of obnoxious jerk, with no common courtesy or respect for another person's feelings, who gets pleasure out of putting someone else down to make him/herself feel good or superior. "Losers," as the above responder, termed it, is quite the appropriate label for those making the mean-spirited comments here. If you felt secure about yourselves or had anything of relevance to say, you wouldn't need to hurt or belittle someone else. It's a sad state of affairs that this many readers have so little self-esteem, common decency, or compassion for other people.

May 24 2010 at 4:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply