Jellyfish are one of the most unique creatures in the water. They are gelatine like creatures surrounded by tentacles that swim freely in the water. While they are a non-aggressive animal, Jellyfish are a strictly look, but do not touch marine creatures. The tentacles they have are enveloped with sacs that contain a toxin that causes a painful, and sometimes life threatening sting. The Jellyfish family includes over 200 varieties of jellyfish including: sea wasps, hydroids, fire coral, anemones and the fearsome Portuguese Man-of-War. While Jellyfish are found in waters around the world, the most dangerous and fatal are housed in the Australian waters and the Indo-Pacific Ocean.
Jellyfish are usually found near the surface of the water during dusk or dawn. They can frequently be found upon the shore washed up from the moving ocean tides. Most Jellyfish stings occur to people who do not handle them correctly, or accidentally swim or wade into a jellyfish that happens to be floating nearby.
Jellyfish stings are know for their agonizing symptoms and intense pain. The ongoing symptoms from a Jellyfish sting can include: Itching, rash, raised welts, nausea, stomach pain, muscle spasms, vomiting, inflammation within the lymph nodes, and numbness/ Stings resulting from some of the more deadly species of Jellyfish, like the Portuguese Man-of-War, or the Box Jellyfish can cause death to humans in a matter of minutes.
Should you ever have the unfortunate chance of meeting up with a Jellyfish and getting stung, do not panic!
• Seek medical attention immediately if you do not know what kind of Jellyfish stung you. Be sure to soak the sting with vinegar and remain as calm and as still as possible. Soak the wound and any attached tentacles in the vinegar and do not attempt to remove the tentacles until after soaking for 15 – 30 minutes. Vinegar can help the sacs stop the flow of the poison. If vinegar is not readily available, soak the wound in sea water. After soaking, if you are still not near a medical facility, go ahead and remove any attached tentacles using gloves or tweezers as to not come into contact with other sacs still full of poison.
• If the sting is on your legs or arms, wrap the sting with an ACE bandage or other comfortable covering. This can help slow the pace of the Jellyfish poison.
• Apply shaving cream to the wounded are if available. This will help prevent any other sacs from responding to touch and releasing their venom, causing more pain and further distress to the wound.
• If you receive a sting in the eyes, rinse with vinegar, or gently dab with a rag that has been drenched in vinegar and gently apply to the eyes. Do not directly apply vinegar to your eyes as this could further complicate the situation and cause additional damage.
• You can take Tylenol or Motrin for pain if needed
Seek immediate medical attention if there are ANY of the following symptoms:
• Difficulty breathing, swallowing, or concentrated, powerful pain at the source of the sting.
• If you have difficulty swallowing, or your lips and or tongue are swollen. You should also seek immediate care if you have been stung on the mouth or eyes.
• If the sting continues to ache, burn, itch or swell and or increase in redness, you should seek medical attention.
Swimming and enjoying the ocean and beach is a time of family fun, and excitement. Jellyfish are not aggressive creatures and hardly the stuff nightmares are made of, yet, we must be aware of their presence and teach children and loved ones to respect and honor them. Jellyfish are beautiful creatures, full of mystery and intrigue, yet must be appreciated and given liberty and room to enjoy their natural habitat. Enjoy the magnificence and wonder of the Jellyfish, but, remember, look and do not touch!