Jellyfish are found all over the tropical world. The most venomous jellyfish is the box jellyfish, though it is technically not an actual jellyfish, 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 species of Jellyfish have any effect on human beings.
Jellyfish can vary from a harmless form of marine life, to a mild nuisance, to a deadly threat. It all depends on where and when you are swimming. Where jellyfish may be a risk always seek expert advice at to the risks, and don't necessarily rely on casual local advice.
At any time you wish to enjoy water activities where there is a risk of jellyfish, you may choose to wear lycra ‘protective clothing’ (or wet suits when diving) to lessen the risk of a sting.
Chironex Box Jellyfish
Chirodropid, Alata, Fleckeri
The Chironex Box Jellyfish is the well-known, larger and potentially fatal Box Jellyfish, common at beaches along the mainland in Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Philippines and a number of other warm water areas in the world. There have been numerous confirmed stings in all of these countries and there have been three confirmed stings in Langkawi in May 1996 and January 2010 (the most recent was confirmed by the victim's husband and ambulance officers - anecdotal evidence on events and symptoms clearly indicates chirodropid - while Malaysian authorities attributed cause of death to drowning) while several fatalities have been recorded in Sabah. There have been a large number of near-fatal stings throughout the region. The likelihood of being stung by this type of Jellyfish is rare though possible and does occur throughout the Indo-Pacific every year. There are several species of this jellyfish with some being more dangerous than others. If you are stung by a Chironex Box Jellyfish, you will feel immediate and severe pain. Refer to First Aid Treatment points below and gain medical assistance immediately.
Portuguese Man of War
Marine stingers known as Bluebottles are wide-spread throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans and can sometimes be seen washed up on beaches. They are usually found further South, but on the odd occasion are found locally. They are visible, blue, jelly-like creatures that give an immediate, painful sting (burning skin, gland pain, nausea, anxiety and sweating). Apply heat, or take a hot shower. Carefully remove any remaining stinging tentacles, ensuring you don't get stung again. If you experience any ongoing or serious symptoms, seek medical advice.
Phyllorhiza, Chrysoara sp1, sp2, sp3, Nemopilema sp1, sp2
One of the more common stinging jellyfish throughout the world and Malaysia and is a bell-shaped invertebrate, usually semi-transparent and with small, white dots and reddish-brown stripes. This can create a quite painful sting with some welting and marks. Pain normally resides after about 1 hour though marks can remain for up to 3 days. Treat immediately with vinegar and if the pain continues, seek medical treatment. Refer to the First Aid Treatment points below.
Protective lycra clothing called stinger suits greatly reduces the risk of exposure (though any areas of the body not covered are susceptible). They also have the added benefit of protecting you from the sun. It is recommended that you refrain from swimming in the ocean during the 48 hour period after a confirmed sting. We will warn you of any recent box jellyfish stings.
Symptoms of the box jellyfish include excruciating pain 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.
Douse the area profusely with vinegar for at least 30 seconds as this stops any un-discharged stinging cells.
Do not try to scrape the tentacles off (with hands, wet sand or any item, or apply pressure), as this will trigger more stinging cells to fire venom into the body.
Contact medical staff as soon as possible, urgent medical assistance will be required.
Portuguese Man of War
If you have been stung by a Portuguese Man of War. Treatment is to flush profusely with vinegar to remove the tentacles. If required, remove the PMAO off with sticks or by using gloves.
The same 1st aid as a box jellyfish should be applied which is 30 seconds on vinegar to douse the sting.
If symptoms proceed, seek medical attention.
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