How to Treat a Jellyfish Sting
In Latin, pelagia noctiluca, translates to night light. Which is exactly what this creature is; a jellyfish with the ability to glow in the dark. Known in Europe as the mauve stinger, this marine organism can be found throughout the oceans of the world, but is most commonly found in warm, tropical, or subtropical bodies of water. Typically, it remains offshore, but often, certain tides or ocean currents means they can come inshore, often washing up on beaches in their thousands. In 2007, a freak event occured when these creatures somehow washed into an irish salmon farm, killing 100,000 salmon, and causing millions worth of damage. Their colors vary through pink, mauve, to shades of golden yellow tan.
Crown jellyfishes are one of the few jellyfish belonging to the order Coronatae, essentially making them true jellyfish. They are easily distinguished from other jellyfish by the deep groove running around the umbrella, which gives them the crown shape for which they are named. Crown jellyfish are able to create light through bioluminescence. When touched, they light up, and when attacked, crown jellyfish are able to distract and startle potential predators with the bioluminescent light they produce. They may also use this same bioluminescent ability to lure and capture prey. When captured, they use their venom to subdue and eventually kill their prey.
Jellyfish are a potential hazard on throughout oceans and beaches around the world, with jellyfish stings ranking as the most common marine injury on the planet. In Nosara, although serious jellyfish stings are very rare, they still occur.
If you make physical contact with a jellyfish, their tentacles emit a set of needle like filaments that discharge a venomous neurotoxin. The stinging sensation is immediate and increases over time, before eventually leveling off, and then subsiding altogether. Jellyfish stings leave behind a redness of the skin, itching and occasional minor swelling. In more severe cases, the victim may become nauseous or experience muscle spasms.
If stung, it is important to treat the sting properly. Washing the affected area in fresh water is a bad idea, and will only stimulate the imbedded needles to secrete more venom. Instead, apply vinegar to the wound. Don’t brush or scratch at the wound, no matter how much it itches. Instead, try to extract the needles away or shave them off with a razor or sharp edge.
Later, it may be a good idea to take an oral antihistamine like Benadryl to lessen your body’s allergic reaction to the venom. The effects of the sting may last from a few hours to a few weeks depending on the toxicity of the venom.