The strongest and most painful stings correspond to the mauve stinger or luminiscent jellyfish (pelagia noctiluca), sea wasp jellyfish (carybdea marsupialis) and flower hat jellyfish (olindias phosphorica), University of Alicante expert César Bordehore explained
Once you get stung, the main thing is to remove the tentacles with a pair of tweezers or a plastic card, without rubbing, and wash in sea water, never in fresh water
Alicante. Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Every year, the jellyfish hinder the vacations of thousands of holiday makers who choose the beach and sea to quell summer high temperatures. University of Alicante researcher César Bordehore, from the Ramón Margalef Institute for Environmental Research IMEM) warns that even though the increase of jellyfish population has not occurred globally in the Mediterranean coast, “we have detected that some beaches tend to host more that usual, some of them with peak numbers, and some others with a sustained increase”.
UA expert confirmed that between 5 and 10% of the Spanish Mediterranean beaches host above average number of jellyfish We are studying how to reduce the populations of jellyfish and also the incidence on attack on people, that is, avoiding as many stings as possible."
Once you get stung by a jellyfish, the best thing to do is to remove the tentacles with a pair of tweezers or a plastic card, without rubbing, and wash it in sea water. "Never use fresh water," UA expert warned, and "once the stung area is properly washed, apply a heat source, if available, at about 40-45 °C for 10-20 minutes."
Go to the the medical service in the local area if the bather has any systemic symptoms such as dizziness, headache or joint pain, alterations of the pulse or blood pressure, swelling, etc.
Most common species
The most common species on the Spanish Mediterranean coast are the reddish-pink, semi-spherical jellyfish (Pelagia noctiluca), with four thick oral arms and eight marginal tentacles up to two meters long; and the barrel jellyfish (Rhyzosmoma pulmo) with a violet-trim bluish-white bell-shaped umbrella and eight thick bluish-white oral arms.
In the group of local jellyfish is the Sea Wasp (Carybdea marsupialis), present in shallow water, the four-long-tentacle cube-shaped and transparent blue or whitish colour; and the flower hat jellyfish (Olindias phosphorica), transparent jellyfish with four white opaque radial lines. With an umbrella surrounded by small blue or burgundy tentacles, "there are no extensive swarms in this area, though it can be very abundant locally," UA researcher explains.
Most painful stings
The strongest and most painful stings correspond to the mauve stinger and the sea wasp jellyfish. The Portuguese Man-of-War (physalia physalis), a floating colony of tiny marine organisms is rare in our coasts but it is certainly the most dangerous specimen. This type is the one we must move away from quickly as soon as we see it since the tentacles can be present in a surrounding radius of more than 10 meters," Bordehore warns.
Luckily, we have no presence of dangerous species that we have to worry about in the local area. In fact, the Mediterranean is one of the seas worldwide where jellyfish are more harmless. In tropical areas, we find species that can generate serious health problems such as the Irukandji jellyfish, tiny and extremely venomous jellyfish in the Pacific region," as explained by César Bordehore from the IMEM.
Thanks to the European project LIFE Cubomed, led by IMEM and the CSIC Marine Science Institute, data have been collected from more than 70% of the 1,200 relief posts on the Mediterranean coast. With these data in mind, there are between 5 and 10% of black spots that should be studied to make a diagnosis and see if we can reduce the presence of jellyfish and thus, their contact with bathers, as stated by Bordehore.
We must bear in mind that jellyfish stings should always be avoided, whether they are weak or painful, since the body can become sensitised after several stings and cause permanent allergic reactions. We have published in a medical journal the effects on a patient to whom a sting of jellyfish caused a permanent allergy to Anisakis and shrimp, what determines her feeding for life, "he added.
There are several factors that determine the appearance of these marine species , however, as UA expert explains, we have to establish two different types: Some that come and go with the currents where the conditions affecting them have to do with large bodies of water and another group of coastal jellyfish that live within the immediate surface water. This second group is affected by the local conditions, from the presence of zooplankton, a food that appears in the water due to a high concentration of nutrients to the configuration of the coastline as closed bays, breakwaters or ports, Bordehore confirmed. These conditions together with the interaction with currents can cause an accumulation of jellyfish in very specific places.
The University of Alicante participates in the project Cubomed, whose website host a Guide to identify and treat jellyfish stings”.
Photo caption: Images of most common and stinging jellyfish in the Spanish Mediterranean:
mauve stinger or luminiscent jellyfish (pelagia noctiluca), sea wasp jellyfish (carybdea marsupialis) and flower hat jellyfish (olindias phosphorica).
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