Jellyfish are found all over the tropical world, the most venomous jellyfish is the box jellyfish (technically not a jellyfish, actually, since it has a basic brain and eyes that can navigate to its prey or swim away from danger like humans). It can actually swim faster than humans and prefers to avoid obstacles. The vast majority of jellyfish stings come from one of the other 2000 species of jellyfish and are painful but not life threatening. Only 100 species of the recorded 2000 speciees of Jellyfish have any effect on human beings.
Being stung by a jellyfish is considered a low risk compared to many other activities. High risk activities would be driving a car, eating local food, drinking local water, taking part in local activity, being stung by a mosquito and a number of other risks. These previously mentioned risks are more likely than a jellyfish sting. As many people say, it is more likley to be hurt whilst sitting under a coconut tree than swimming. However this information may reduce your risk.
If stung apply vinegar immediately after the sting for 30 seconds can neutralize a lot of venom. It is recommended you take a couple of large water bottles of vinegar with you if you want to prepare for possible treatment of jellyfish stings, as vinegar is the best remedy. Do not add pressure or try and remove the stingers as this may increase the venom. Please refer to the First Aid Section below.
There is a very low risk associated with participation in watersports activities that involve any type of water craft (e.g. paddle skis, catamarans etc.). There is a higher risk when swimming, snorkelling or diving as you spend considerable time in the water. At any time you wish to enjoy water activities, you may choose to wear lycra ‘protective clothing’ (or wet suits when diving).
Chironex Box Jellyfish
Chirodropid, Alata, Fleckeri
Portuguese Man of War
Phyllorhiza, Chrysoara sp1, sp2, sp3, Nemopilema sp1, sp2
Please note that limited research has been completed to the species, types, life cycles, behavioral and movement patterns and seasons of Jellyfish in Malaysia. Due to this lack of knowledge, most people in langkawi will not to provide information on Jellyfish, or their personal opinions about swimming in the ocean, as the information provided can vary dramatically. The Box Jellyfish is thought to be found in the warmer months of January to May though there has been limited research in their habits or if in fact they are confirmed to live within the waters of Langkawi.
Symptoms of the box jellyfish include screams of agony upon contact and cardiac and respiratory arrest can occur within minutes. There will be many large red welts marks on the body where there has been contact. It is believed the risk is greater for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
In the unlikely event that you come into contact with a Box Jelly, please instigate the following first aid treatment.
Portuguese Man of War