Purple jellyfish or Pelagia noctiluca: small creatures floating in the sea and a sting that can be very painful because of the neurotoxin it contains. This year, it looks as if we are going to spend our summer vacations in the company of the purple … not only in Greek seas but in the whole Mediterranean Sea.
What can we do to avoid waters with purple jellyfish, what should we do if we get stung?
Pelagia noctiluca or Purple Jellyfish is considered the most important stinging jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea. Both its tentacles and—unusual among jellyfish—the bell are covered in cnidocytes (stinging cells), and even recently dead, stranded individuals can sting.
The sting causes pain that typically lasts 1–2 weeks, local redness, swelling and a rash, but it is generally not dangerous and there are no known fatalities. On occasion, symptoms may be more general and include dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea. Sudden recurrent skin eruptions may occur years later.
Rarely, the sting can cause a serious allergic reaction and leave scars or hyperpigmented marks on the skin that can remain for years after the encounter.
Symptoms caused by purple jellyfish sting
Nematocysts produce on the human skin redness, swelling, burning as well as sometimes severe dermo-necrotic, cardio- and neurotoxic effects, which are particularly dangerous in sensitive individuals.
Symptoms after contact with the jellyfish sting may be: Pain like burning, often intense reddening of the skin, and in some cases the appearance of jellyfish imprint on part of your skin, nausea, drop in pressure, tachycardia, headache, vomiting , diarrhea, spasm of the bronchi, shortness of breath.
In case of systemic symptoms (rare) such as: hypotension, hoarseness, wheezing, generalized angioedema, extensive rash, communication-consciousness disorders, vomiting, it is necessary to immediately transport the patient to the hospital.
Scientists advice swimmers to go to the beach with a small kit containing first aid items such as anti-allergic gel or a cortisone cream.
What to do if you get stung
1.Get out of the sea into a safe place at the beach
2.Wash with plenty sea water
3.Remove rests of the jellyfish with a pinch or a credit card – Never with the hands.
4. What helps: ice, painkillers and cortisone cream
You can apply on the injury a paste made of 2 soup spoons baking soda + 2 soup spoons of sea water. Carefully apply it on the wound and leave there for a few minutes.
You can apply cold pas for 10 minutes with interruption so that the skin is not injured.
Cortisone cream on mild rash for the next days
Check with a dermatologist if the rash persists or grows or if wounds.
Go to Emergencies if systematic symptoms such as shortness of breath, hoarseness or general discomfort
Avoid to use on the wound:
Tab or bottle water, vinegar, alcohol, ammonia
Rubbing with sand or beach towel
Warm and compressing bandages
Choosing a purple jellyfish-free beach
Citizens are asked to check at the weather and the winds before going to a beach. Winds should be blowing opposite to the beach toward the open sea. That is: if the beach has a view to the South, then to reduce the possibility of jellyfish the winds must come down from the north, so that the ripples it creates drive them away away from the beach.
If there is a plankton on a beach, it is recommended that citizens avoid swimming, because jellyfish feed on plankton. The jellyfish’s cnidocytes, i.g the specialized cells they mainly use mainly for capturing their prey are small and transparent but can reach 10 meters in length.
If there is a serious problem with purple jellyfish on a beach then it is recommended that citizens do not risk swimming and make sure to always have some antihistamine cream with them or some cortisone ointment that can be obtained from any pharmacy.
For no reason should citizens take the jellyfish out to bury them in the sand, due to the fact that the problem is carried out with the possibility of someone accidentally stepping on a nematode, but also because in such large outbreaks as many as the citizens see and to make out there are hundreds or even thousands more in the sea. This is not going to solve the problem.
There are also harmless jellyfish
Apart from the purple jellyfish, there are others that do not pose a danger to bathers, Christos Taklis, Maritime & Conservation Biologist and administrator of the Greek Biodiversity Watch, told state-run news agency amna.
“We should not tease them or take them ashore.” Taklis stressed and explained why:.
“First and main reason is that if the jellyfish bite then we transfer the problem to the mainland and if there are outbreaks such as e.g. of the purple jellyfish (Pelagia noctiluca) then we do not achieve anything because a little further in the sea we have millions and billions of jellyfish that trying to take them ashore will break their transparent tentacles in shallow water or on the beach that if we touch them or step on in them again they can sting us.
Second reason is that some jellyfish like e.g. The Mediterranean jellyfish (Cotylorhiza tuberculata) when decomposed under the hot sun begins to smell bad within minutes.
Third reason is that jellyfish are very useful species because they consume phytoplankton and zooplankton in huge quantities. If there is enough phytoplankton (the brown color on the surface of the sea) it creates various problems in the ecosystem but at the same time it spoils the holidays for tourists who do not like to swim in it. While zooplankton are tiny marine organisms, they also include jellyfish regardless of whether a few species are large and we see them. An outbreak of zooplankton again causes us a problem with intense itching in our body and we can not swim.
In fact, these are often millions of tiny jellyfish invisible to the eye since their size is often a maximum of 1 or 2 millimeters and people have an itch by just swimming in the water.
main information source: Taklis on amna.