The Costa del Sol here in Spain boasts some of the best beaches in the world which are visited by millions of people each year. The beaches here are relatively safe yet in recent years we have been visited by some unwelcome guests, of the gelatinous kind.
In recent years there has been quite a lot of press about swarms of the "Mauve Stinger" Jellyfish visiting our shores. Measuring up to three metres in length, this particular species can pack quite a punch with its stings causing severe pain and discomfort for its victims. In some cases, their stings can cause allergic reactions or even heart failure, although this is quite a rare occurrence.
Experts have stated that the rise in numbers may be caused by an increase in the sea's temperature. Others believe that overfishing of the waters is to blame for a decline in natural predators such as swordfish, turtles and tuna.
The Portuguese Man o' War is another species of jellyfish, which can sometimes inhabit the Spanish coastline. In a recent news story, seven people in the popular tourist resort of Benidorm on the Costa Blanca were stung by the species in the waters off Mal Pas and Poniente beaches.
The tentacles of the Man O' War are filled with coiled, barbed tubes that can inject venom capable of paralysing and killing small fish and other sea creatures.
Although a sting from the Mauve Stinger or Portuguese Man O' War is rarely fatal to humans, the sting can cause more serious complications to young children and those with weaker immune systems such as elderly people. At the very least, the stings can be extremely painful.
Many beaches have flags that indicate whether the threat of Jellyfish is likely. Make sure that you check before going into the water.
Jellyfish quite often get washed up onshore. Be particularly aware of inquisitive children touching them as this will cause them to get stung.
How To Treat Jellyfish Stings
1. Try to keep the patient calm.
2. Do not rub the affected area with a towel as this will make things worse.
3. Wash the area that has been affected with seawater or vinegar. Vinegar is particularly good as the acid neutralises the nematocysts (sacs that are stuck to the skin) and prevents them from discharging. Do not use still water as this may exacerbate things and cause the nematocysts to trigger and inject venom.
Make sure that you soak the wound for around 15 - 30 minutes. Hot (not scalding) or warm water is also very beneficial although this may not be available on the beach.
4. Remove any remaining tentacles using tweezers or something clean such as a credit card. If you remove with your fingers, make sure you are wearing gloves.
5. Apply cold to the wound using ice wrapped in a towel. This will help to relieve the discomfort.
6. If the patient is feeling dizzy or has an allergic response, please seek medical help immediately.
7. Take painkillers such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen if required.
September 24, 2021