Monday, November 1, 2010

Coral Casualty

Nacho and I went to El Nido with some friends for a few days. Despite this casualty story, I had a tremendously great time. 

We only had one day to go island hopping, so we took a combo island hopping tour - a cross between Tour A (caves) and Tour B (beaches).   For some reason, I decided not to wear my aqua socks and was confident enough that my slippers will get me through some island hopping fun.  I did the tour before and some of my companions were in slippers and they were fine. The first of seven stops was Small Lagoon.  I alighted from our boat and took Nacho from the boatman. And we were off, swimming our way to the entrance of the Small Lagoon.

I did not anticipate the waves.   When we were last there, the water was calm.  My slippers slipped away from my feet and I managed to grab them before they were taken away by the current. With our new underwater camera strapped around my elbow, we continued.  I kicked again, and felt my leg scratch against something hard and sharp.  I went underwater and saw some black coral on my right.  I glanced at my leg, and noticed some jagged red scratches. Okay, not too serious.

Then a strong wave pushed us.  I slammed on the coral again with the same leg. Ugh. It hit he side of my lower shin. And THAT hurt.

As soon as we got to shallower water, I took a look at my leg.  It was, well, lightly lacerated with small 1cm cuts, some of them deep.  I had a few long scratches too.  I took a deep breath as it was freaking me out.  I heard that there were some reef sharks in El Nido, and I know that sharks are attracted to blood, and I knew that my cuts were bleeding, and there are reef sharks in some parts of Palawan... and my cuts were bleeding, and sharks were attracted to blood - this kept on going around in my head. Yikes. Paranoid.

I was determined to shake off all the bad vibes.  It was about 9:30a.m. and we still had the whole day. We enjoyed almost an hour of swimming, snorkeling, picture-taking, and just floating around.  But there were a lot of people going in and out of the lagoon, so we couldn't really enjoy the peace and quiet. Okay, we too were not exactly quiet.  But when Nacho and I were there with family last June, we had the whole place to ourselves for a while, and  were able to enjoy the water sounds and the bird sounds.

A friend aboard the boat lent me some Chinese medicine called Mopidick that came in a small bottle, and you just dab the liquid on to your cut.  It stung for a bit and then numbed the cuts.  I found out later that Mopidick is also good for burns, insect bites and other skin irritations. That night, I poured alcohol over the cuts.  Another friend shared with me some of her antibacterial cream before going home the next day.

But they still stung even after we got back from the trip!  Rene said that there are microorganisms in the corals, and when you cut yourself, these tiny things will be caught in your skin as well.  After a while, the cut could develop an infection. So, I cleaned them again, this time with some Hydrogen Peroxide, applied Betadine, then antibacterial Fucidin, covered the nine small ones with Band Aids and four large ones with gauze then took a tablet of Celestamine (just in case I get an allergic reaction).  With all those bandages, my leg looked much worse than it actually was - looked a bit exaggerated, actually.

A full 24 hours later, I removed all the bandages and voila, I got my scabs! Amazing how the body can fix itself.

Later, I discovered that those corals could really be dangerous and in some cases, fatal.  So, bring your hydrogen peroxide, antibacterial ointments and some Band Aids the next time you go snorkeling!  Just in case!

And, by the way, I also learned that being stung by jellyfish is much more of a worry than being attacked by a reef shark.  Reef sharks are fearful of humans!  And for jellyfish, just bring vinegar!


  1. That was a relief! Good thing you brought along anti-bacterial medicine....

  2. Yes, it could have been much worse! But bad news, some of them still got infected, and so I am on Diprogenta ointment and antihistamine for two weeks!