Jellyfish: The Beautiful Stingers

Jellyfish are beautiful creatures that inhabit all the oceans around the world, from the surface to the deep sea, and have roamed the seas for at least 500 million years, making them the oldest multi-organ animal. But they can cause lots of pain, and sometimes even death if you come into contact with their tentacles.

Credit: Rebloggy.com

Credit: Rebloggy.com

There are over 1,500 types of jellyfish — some as small as a pinhead while others can be much larger than a person! Jellyfish are found in both fresh water and salt water, and are typified as free-swimming marine animals consisting of a gelatinous umbrella-shaped bell with trailing tentacles.

A Jellyfish Credit: GeniusDevil via Flickr

Credit: GeniusDevil via Flickr

While most jellyfish are passive and will not sting unless provoked, if you are going to be swimming for a prolonged period in jellyfish waters, please wear some clothing that will cover your extremities so you do not get stung. As long as your skin does not come into contact with skin, you will avoid jellyfish pain. Better safe than sorry!

Shows the different hotspots for jellyfish swarms around the world. Credit: NSF.gov

Shows the different hotspots for jellyfish swarms around the world. Credit: NSF.gov

Different Types of Jellyfish

  • Box Jellyfish
    • Present all around Hawaii and Australia
    • Hawaiian variation is a bit less dangerous than the very dangerous one from Australia
Box jellyfish - Credit: James Brennan Molokai Hawaii via Flickr

Box jellyfish – Credit: James Brennan Molokai Hawaii via Flickr

  • Cannonball Jellyfish
    • Present all around the eastern seaboard of the United States and all the way down to Brazil
    • Will cause irritation and a small amount of pain, but are not deadly
Cannonball Jellyfish Credit: dnr.sc.gov

Cannonball jellyfish
Credit: dnr.sc.gov

  • Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
    • Found in cold, boreal waters of the Arctic, northern Atlantic, and northern Pacific Oceans
    • Appear during the colder months of the year
    • Will cause a burning sensation, but nothing too serious.
Lion's Mane jellyfish Credit: dnr.sc.gov

Lion’s Mane jellyfish
Credit: dnr.sc.gov

  • For more information about different types of jellyfish please click here.

Treating Jellyfish Sting

*** If the person stung is a child or an elderly person, please seek medical attention right away, and then proceed with these steps! ***

Minor Jellyfish sting Credit: Kate Nevens vai Flickr

Minor Jellyfish sting
Credit: Kate Nevens via Flickr

  1. Get out of the water as soon as possible.
  2. Try not to move at all. Moving will cause the stingers will dish out more venom.
  3. Remove stingers from affected area. You can do this by using a razor, a knife, the edge of a credit card, or anything that can scrape it off. Whatever you do, DO NOT use your hands because the stingers can transfer and sting you again.
  4. Deactivate the remaining stingers. Use white vinegar on the sting with a clean cloth. If no vinegar is available, you can use salt water, shaving cream, or even a heavy paste of sand/mud.
  5. Remove any venom in the skin. Use baking soda and water and cover with a cloth covering. Apply this every 15-20 minutes. If you do not have access to any baking soda, ice can be used to stop the spread of the venom.
  6. Take a hot shower for 15-20 minutes. This can help in deactivating any poison that you might have not been able to get to. This does not work for all jellyfish, but it does work on some.

If you experience any symptoms worse than skin irritation or you have trouble breathing, please go see a doctor immediately.

Fast Fact: If you wash the jellyfish sting location with fresh water, it could reactivate the stinging cells and you will have to restart your whole treatment operation. This happens because the tonicity changes, which causes the stingers to fire off more venom.

A strong jellyfish sting Credit: Thomas Quine via Flickr

A strong jellyfish sting
Credit: Thomas Quine via Flickr

Stay Safe. Know Before™.

-The WeatherBug Team

 

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