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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

Yes. That’s right. Mediterranean beaches are being invaded by a surge of jellyfish this year which means that if you’re planning a holiday to the Med this summer, watch yourself. These little buggers sting!

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The surge in jellyfish not only throws off the sea’s biodiversity but it causes a major health concern for the tens of thousands that flock to the beaches around the Mediterranean for summer holidays. Professor Stefano Piraino of Salento University in the south of Italy commented,

“I flew along a 300km stretch of the coastline on April 21st and saw millions of jellyfish.”

Professor Piraino is one of the key figures tracking the number of jellyfish in the Mediterranean which are steadily increasing due to global warming and overfishing. This isn’t happening only in the Mediterranean. “Citizen scientists” using their smartphones and a jellyfish app are reporting that jellyfish numbers along the world’s coasts are up all around the world.

Pelagia Noctiluca

Piraino explains, “There are now beaches on the island of Lampedusa, which receives 300,000 tourists a year, where people can only swim for a week in the summer.” What worries scientists most is the discovery that one of the most poisonous species, the Pelagia noctiluca is enjoying a population surge along the coast of Catalonia and Valencia. Concentrations of 30-40 jellyfish per square metre have been spotted.

Other coasts with particularly big jellyfish populations include Sardinia, Sicily, Malta as well as beaches in the eastern Mediterranean in Israel and Lebanon.

Each summer around 150,000 people are treated for jellyfish stings.

The best protection against a sting is surprisingly suncream (which we should all be wearing anyways) as it prevents the venom released by jellyfish tentacles from penetrating the skin.

[see]Under the sea: where to swim with the ocean’s most fascinating creatures[/see]

jellyfish-signs

How to treat a jellyfish sting:

  • First off: avoid them. If you spot them in the water, get out. If you see one of the beach, keep clear. They can still sting.
  • If you’re stung, get out of the water right away. If you thrash around a Portuguese man-of-war, could wrap its tentacles around you which is another problem to deal with.
  • If you see tentacles on you, pick them away with the corner of a credit card (a hotel key works fine too). Do not rub.
  • Apply vinegar liberally. This stops the remaining nematocysts on the skin from discharging.
  • No vinegar? Salt water also helps.
  • Wrap a bag of ice around the affected area to relieve the pain.
  • Feeling dizzy, sick or having difficulty breathing? Call for medical help immediately.

Contrary to popular believe, it is strongly not recommended to clean a jellyfish sting with urine or fresh water. Also, do not rub the area with sand.

Ever been stung by a jellyfish? Tell us about the ordeal!

Imgs: NBphotostream, bsterling / Flickr cc.

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