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jellyfish question please

Ontario, Canada
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jellyfish question please

We are going to the Melia Guillermo this week. Can you please tell me if there is a jellyfish problem? I know other areas, not just Cuba, are having an overpopulation of jellyfish. Any recent visitors with thoughts would be helpful. Thanks.

Gloucester, United...
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1. Re: jellyfish question please


we have been 3 weeks at the iberostar and went to pilar beach and out on the catamaran at the resort snorkelling on the reef. We saw a few pink jellyfish which was a bit alarming but the man sailing the boat picked one up and showed us that they DONT sting!! These are the only jelly fish we saw, though only the odd one was by the shore, mainly they were at the reef 2 kms out. No need to be alarmed.

Hope that helps


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2. Re: jellyfish question please

Jellyfish all depends on the ocean temps and tidal currents. Can be lots today and nothing for a week after.

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for Cayo Guillermo
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3. Re: jellyfish question please

Take small packets of vinegar with you. Takes away the sting.

Grimsby, Canada
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4. Re: jellyfish question please

My first trip to Cuba was right after Hurricane Georges (at the airport we weren't sure if we were flying out) We went to Cayo Coco and had fabulous, perfect weather all week. The first half of the week, no jellyfish...2nd half, people were getting stung everywhere (some people were laying on the beach, screaming - totally freaked me out) Because of that the beach was vacant for the rest of the week. We were told they had come in because of the hurricane. Is that true?

United Kingdom
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for Holguin, Guardalavaca
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5. Re: jellyfish question please

Oh No; not the dreaded jellyfish sting... I hear the calls for "YOAMED"...lol,,lol

(sorry folks, just couldnt resist..jeje)

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6. Re: jellyfish question please

I can't say if there is a problem or not but as previously mentioned, vinegar or salt water or rubbing alcohol can help with the sting. I was stung a few years ago while at a resort in Jamaica and it does hurt when you are stung. I had several welts that lasted for several days and then marks that looked almost like scar tissue that lasted over a year. I didn't even see the jellyfish and I was only in the water one minute when I got stung. My husband and I had just returned from a walk on the beach and I just stepped in up to my waist and ducked down to cool off and I got up screeching and swearing. I got out of the water pretty fast and my husband thought I was being funny until he saw the marks on my skin. I never thought of going to the doctor but I just kept putting on aloe vera gel which helped with the burn. Urine is also said to help but I'm sure that not many are going to go that route to stop the sting- lol.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: jellyfish question please

hola..long but a good read.

Travel Safety Jellfish Information:

There are around two thousand species of Jellyfish in the world but less than one hundred are considered dangerous to human animals. They are not in fact fish but invertebrates with none of the organs we would associate with higher life forms.

Jellyfish eat mainly zooplankton and do so by capturing them with toxic tentacles which range from a few inches to a few hundred feet long. They travel around the oceans on self propulsion, tide and wind, in warm and cold waters alike.

The complete lack of a brain means that if a jellyfish stings you it really can't help it - unless it's Chironex fleckeri which can control itself efficiently, even without a brain.

If its stinging cells [nematocysts] make contact with your skin they will release their poison into it.

The Box jelly species, known as Cubozoa [ie. cube shape], includes Irukandji as far as scientists are concerned, though laymen think of the Box jelly as the big one and Irukandji as the little 'un. The biological names are: Chironex fleckeri [the Box] and Carukia barnesi [the Peanut]

Dangerous Jellyfish:

Box Jelly [Chironex fleckeri - pictured above left and resulting scars right - and 20 near relatives] is found off the shores of Northern Australia, PNG, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. This marine animal has a boxy bell head the size of a basket ball and three metre tentacles that can kill a man in a couple of minutes, though there are recent reports of much smaller Box jellies that are just as deadly.

It has 3 million stinging cells every centimtre of its tentacles!

The Box jelly is responsible for at least one death a year around Australia and has killed 67 people since records began in 1883, though the total is misleading since many deaths attributed to heart attacks or drowning could have been caused by toxic jellies.

Problem shores are usually signposted, and this is one serious bubblepack to be avoided at all costs - the most poisonous creature in the world.

New Scientist magazine [Nov '03] revealed that Box jellies are not 'dim-witted ocean drifters' but 'fast, active predators that hunt and kill with incredible speed and brutality.'

The Box Jellyfish is mostly a problem from October - May.


- severe pain

- headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea

- skin swelling/wounds/redness

- difficulty breathing, swallowing and speech

- shivering, sweating

- irregular pulse/heart failure

Stings treatment:

- pour vinegar over tentacles. Urine does not work on the Box Jelly or Irukandji.

- lift off any tentacles with a stick or similar.

- use pressure-immobilisation on limbs if possible. i.e. quickly wrap a light bandage above and below the sting [if you can't get two fingers under the bandage, it's too tight].

- Immobilize/splint the stung area and keep it at heart level [gravity-neutral] if possible. Too high causes venom to travel to the heart, too low causes more swelling.

- Do not drink alcohol, or take any medicine or food.

- get medical treatment urgently or apply antivenom if available.

Irukandji [Carukia barnesi and several other unidentified species that produce irukandji syndrome] - also lurks in the waters of Northen Australia, mostly near Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. Irregular sea currents can easily move it to the shore.

It is extremely painful and occasionally deadly.

Irukandji has been seen as far south as Brisbane.

It's mostly a problem from November - May, but has been recorded in all months except July and August.

Symptoms [as little as 5 minutes after apparently mild stings]:

- lower back pain, intense headache.

- muscle cramps and shooting pains, nausea, vomiting.

- catastrophically high blood pressure.

- restlessness and feeling of impending doom.

- death from heart failure or fluid on the lungs.

Stings treatment:

- pour vinegar over tentacles.

- lift off any tentacles with a stick or similar.

- compress the wound area with a bandage.

- take pain killers.

- get medical treatment as soon as possible. Portuguese man-of-war/ the Blue-bottle [Hydrozoa to a scientist] - this is a sail bearing, wind blown animal which travels the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and may be blown inshore. The larger varieties may be occasionally fatal to humans but are not usually dangerous.

Stings treatment:

- lift off any tentacles with a stick or similar.

- apply an ice pack

- apply a local anaesthetic [sunburn cream/insect bite cream].

Advice on avoiding Jellyfish Stings:

Take extreme precautions if you have an existing heart condition as Jellyfish deaths are normally attributed to cardiac arrest [or pulmonary congestion].

Avoid swimming in the Oct-May high-jelly season, especially in the seas north of Brisbane, in Northern Australia, and particularly around Cairns and the Whitsunday islands. Also beware around PNG, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Wetsuits or Lycra 'stinger suits ' offer good protection especially the sophisticated models with hands, neck and head coverage, see picture. Feet may be covered by fins or swimming shoes.

Take notice of warnings! Bathing areas prone to toxic jellies may have safety signs. see picture.

Keep your eyes peeled when swimming in areas where the more dangerous variety live tho' your chances of seeing Irukandji are smaller than they are.

Dead jellyfish on the shore may look like gelatinous blobs and they are, but while there is still moisture, there can be life in those old cells and you may be stung. Safety first! Don't tread on them and don't pick them up.

General Jellyfish Stings Treatment:

- rinse the area with sea water. Do not scrub or wash with fresh water which will aggravate the stinging cells. Do not pour sun lotion or spirit-based liquid on the area.

- deactivate remaining cells with a vinegar rinse. If no vinegar is available use urine, apart from Box jellies and Irukandji. Ask a mate for a golden shower! Really! Preferably male urine as it's considered to be more sterile.

- lift off any remaining tentacles with a stick or similar.

- if cells still linger, dust with flour and carefully scrape off with a blunt knife.

- after all tentacle sections have gone, pain can be treated with a cold pack and/or a local anaesthetic such as a sunburn lotion or insect bite treatment that lists '...ocaine' as an ingredient.

- if there is continued swelling, or itchiness, apply a light steroid cream e.g. Hydrocortisone eczema cream.

- if muscle spasms persist see a doctor.

Treatment Research:

Doctors in Queensland are successfully using magnesium sulphate in clinical trials to cure Irukandji syndrome.

They are also testing a compound that prevents stinger cells from firing which may be added to waterproof sunscreen in the not too distant future...

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8. Re: jellyfish question please

Treatment depends of what jelly fish it was that stung you. If it was a Man of War (not a true jelly fish) then vinegar is NOT recommended as this would make any remaining bits left on your skin to fire off more toxin. I'd suggest people do some googling and read up. FYI, even a dead jelly can sting if you walk on the tenticle along the beach.

Montreal, Canada
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9. Re: jellyfish question please

I agree with beachguy, do nit apply vinegar to Portuguese Man of War:


Here are excerpts from the site


Although formerly considered effective, vinegar is no longer recommended for Portuguese man-of-war stings. In a laboratory experiment, vinegar dousing caused discharge of nematocysts from the larger (P. physalis) man-of-war species. The effect of vinegar on the nematocysts of the smaller species (which has less severe stings) is mixed: vinegar inhibited some, discharged others.

No studies support applying heat to Portuguese man-of-war stings. Studies on the effectiveness of meat tenderizer, baking soda, papain, or commercial sprays (containing aluminum sulfate and detergents) on nematocyst stings have been contradictory. It's possible these substances cause further damage. In one U.S. Portuguese man-of-war fatality, lifeguards sprayed papain solution immediately on the victim's sting. Within minutes, the woman was comatose, and later died.

Alcohol and human urine may be harmful on Portuguese man-of-war stings. An Australian study reports that both alcohol and urine caused massive nematocyst discharge in the box jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri.

Most Hawaii Portuguese man-of-war stings disappear by themselves, sometimes within 15 or 20 minutes. Because of this, even harmful therapies often appear to work. A key concept in the first aid of any injury is: Do no harm. Therefore, avoid applying unproven, possibly harmful substances on stings.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: jellyfish question please


The info which I posted did come from Saint Paul's Hospital in Vancouver....from a person in the poison control centre....