Poison is a word we all become familiar with at a very young age, most notably through the use of symbols that denote danger, like Mr. Yuk or a skull and crossbones. We know as children that poison is dangerous, it will harm us, and to stay clear of it whenever possible. The message is delivered loud and clear with distinctive visual clues.
Marine animals use the same type of warning symbols to alert predators and other threats, but the method of delivery may not be that clear. That is where the difference between venomous and poisonous come into play:
The animal itself, whole or in part, contains toxins that are either secreted, or retained in the flesh or organs, at which point they would become toxic through ingestion. Some of these creatures harvest their toxins from other poisonous animals they feed on.
The toxin is produced and stored in a gland that is attached to a injecting delivery method, like a barb or a stinger.
You can tell immediately by the physical makeup of many marine animals whether they are poisonous or venomous, like protruding spines or trailing tentacles. But not all cases are so obvious….
So now it’s quiz time, kids — which of these animals are poisonous, and which are venomous?
Banded Sea Krait
Top image via eek the cat