Pelagia noctiluca, a Mediterranean jellyfish. Photo by Hans Hillewaert.
Blobby life forms off the world’s beaches
Mediterranean Jellyfish: In summertime some of the Mediterranean – from Spain’s Costa del Sol thru France’s south coast and down Italy as far as Sicily – can suffer from jellyfish invasion, varying in intensity depending on the year.
The nasty critter is generally the mauve stinger or Pelagia noctiluca (so called because they glow at night). The stings are painful and unpleasant but not life-threatening unless a swimmer has a weak heart, a sever allergic reaction or panics on encountering a shoal of blobbies and drowns. . .
The cause of the stinger explosion is possibly global warming boosting water temperatures by a couple of degrees as well as increased pollution-derived nutrients and reduced cool freshwater entering from rivers.
However, overfishing of anchovies (which compete with jellies for plankton salad), turtles and tuna fish (which eat jellies for dessert) has also aided the mauve climate avenger’s expansionist tendencies.
Med jellies, however unpleasant are not at all deadly and stings can often be dealt with by rinsing the area with SEA water, putting sand on it and rubbing with something hard such as a credit card to remove stings. Alternatively applying very hot water does a great job of de-activating the stings. Contrary to myth, urinating on stings has no effect. Though it may be amusing.
For information on nastier jellies usually found only in tropical waters such as the Portuguese Man-o-War (big and blue but not too bad, and we speak from personal experience), Irukandji (tiny but terrible) and Box Jellies (huge and hellishly life-threatening), see seriously dangerous jellyfish.
Australia’s Stingers get zapped
Getting wacked by a jellies off popular NE coast resorts of Cairns and Airlie beach is a dying custom as both towns have constructed such spectacular, user-friendly, free salt water lagoons on the shore that no longer does one feel the need to brave the turgid, toxic waters of the sea. Brisbane also has a terrific lagoon on a city river bank.
Avoiding Jellyfish Stings
Take special precautions if you have a heart condition as jellyfish deaths are normally attributed to cardiac arrest or pulmonary congestion.
Avoid swimming off northern Australia’s beaches in the Oct-May high-jelly season, especially in the seas north of Brisbane in Northern Australia, but also around India, Indonesia and the Philippines. Wetsuits or Lycra ‘stinger suits ‘ offer good though not complete protection.
Dead jellyfish on beaches may look like gelatinous blobs, but while there is still moisture there can be life in the cells and you may be stung. Don’t tread on them and don’t pick them up.