Jellyfish Safety 101

A jellyfish in the water can be a breathtaking sight, one that can be quite terrifying when we remember that jellyfish are infamous for having a very painful sting. It’s one of the creatures that we should always watch out for whenever we go to the beach or open sea. That said, there is a lot of misinformation about jellyfish. While these stories are certainly well-intentioned, they may hurt someone in the long run or prevent people from getting the proper treatment for jellyfish stings.

Jellyfish 2

To avoid this, let’s talk about popular jellyfish myths and debunk them right here in this article. We’ll also list down the proper ways of addressing jellyfish stings. These facts will certainly be handy while you’re appreciating the rich biodiversity in popular diving spots and beach resorts in Batangas or any other seaside destination.

Myth 1: Jellyfish are hostile and deliberately attack swimmers and divers.

This is false. Any jellyfish encounter is completely by accident. Jellyfish may be carnivores, but what they eat are typically other forms of sea life—usually creatures that are much smaller than them. Jellyfish are also slow-moving creatures, relying mostly on ocean currents to carry them where they need to go. Also, they don’t swim towards people or sting with malice or ill will; the hooks found on their tentacles are automatically activated when they brush against organic matter—including humans. Stinging incidents happen simply because swimmers and jellyfish accidentally swim into each other’s direction or interact under water.

Myth 2: All jellyfish stings are fatal.

Absolutely false. While there are definitely jellyfish species that carry incredibly potent venom, these are usually quite rare; the chances of you coming across one while in a well-known beach in the Philippines is incredibly small. A jellyfish sting may result in quite a bit of pain, but it’s not an immediate death sentence. Still, every jellyfish sting should be taken very seriously, and urgent medical attention should be sought without delay. Also, the victim may end up being allergic to jellyfish venom; even if it’s harmless, a sting could provoke an allergic response and affect the victim’s breathing.

Myth 3: Urinating on the location of a jellyfish sting helps neutralize the venom and relieve pain.

False. Urine may actually make it worse, as the waste material it contains can activate the rest of the nematocysts (stinging organelles) on the parts of the jellyfish that are still attached to the sting site, causing them to pump out more venom. This will obviously exacerbate the pain, as will rubbing or scratching the site of the sting. Using fresh water to wash the sting location will also have a similar effect. It’s better to use vinegar or sea water to try and wash off the stingers, as these two can also help alleviate the pain.

As it is, getting stung by a jellyfish is a real risk when swimming in open water. However, there are steps that you can take to help victims.

  • Use protective gear. Gloves or even plastic bags can help protect you from the stingers as you’re trying to help the victim. Remember, you only need to brush against the nematocysts to activate them and release more venom. Wearing gloves will save you a lot of grief in the long run.
  • Help the victim relax and remove them from the water. By this point, the victim will be in obvious pain and might be panicking. This, in turn, can make the situation worse and lead to further stings or even drowning. Help them relax while pulling them out of the water, and don’t hesitate to seek help from nearby swimmers if you find the task too much to handle alone.
  • Remove the stingers carefully. Grab some sand or a shell and gently use these to scrape the stingers off. Never grab the stingers directly with your fingers. You may also use a shaving cream and a razor if you have them within easy reach.
  • Neutralize the pain. Splash generous amounts of sea water or vinegar onto the affected area to alleviate the pain as well as to wash away any remaining nematocysts. NEVER use fresh or purified water. Using ice packs or antihistamine can also help.
  • Get the victim to a hospital. Regardless if you managed to identify the jellyfish or not, it’s best to play it safe. Get the victim to emergency care for medical treatment.

Jellyfish sting safety begins with you

Don’t play around when jellyfish stings are concerned. By arming yourself with the proper information about jellyfish and what to do when you or your friends get stung, you’ll be able to enjoy your beach trip more without worry or fear.

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Thank you for reading!

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