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