Marine venoms are large-molecular-weight compounds of vasoactive and proteolytic enzymes with diffuse effects on the circulatory, neurologic, immunologic, and respiratory systems.4,56 and 7 They require a specialized delivery system, are commonly heat and gastric-acid labile, show nonseasonal toxicity, and can be released in varying amounts. Conversely, poisons are usually metabolic byproducts of lower molecular weight. They are ingested (thereby requiring no delivery system), are usually heat and gastric-acid stable, and carry some seasonal toxicity.
Venoms are produced in specialized glands and are broadly classified as parenteral toxins, which are injected mechanically, or crinotoxins, which are delivered topically as slimes (mucous or gastric secretions). Practically, venoms are used offensively or defensively. An offensive venom is employed to kill prey and is typically located near the mouth or on the tentacles. Defensive venoms are used to protect the animal and are usually located near the tail. A human's reaction to an envenomation can be allergic or toxic.
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