13 December 2010

Dangerous jellyfish hit EC beaches
13 December 2010
Guy Rogers
A vagrant species of jellyfish that packs a painful sting has appeared off Eastern Cape beaches.

Issuing the warning on Sunday, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University researcher Dr Nadine Strydom said the dangerous interloper is unlike the usual, large, benign clear-coloured species of jellyfish, Rhizostoma Pulmo, which often strands on our our beaches and has no stingers.

The newcomer, the red compass jellyfish (genus Chrysaora), is a species from South Africa’s west coast and it does not usually occur in Eastern Cape waters.

But it is here now, and bathers should take care, Strydom said.

“My research team worked in the surf zone off Sundays (River) estuary and were left amazed at the sheer numbers in the water around us. We also all experienced the painful stings,” Strydom said.

“Once in the surf zone, the tentacles often break off and can still deliver a powerful sting.”

Strydom said she was not sure what had prompted the arrival of this strange oceanic swarm.

“But the onshore winds have driven thousands of these red jellyfish into shallow water, onto beaches and into estuaries from Port Elizabeth to East Kleinemonde, and possibly beyond.

The sting is harmful but not lethal. Caution should be taken with small children as severe stings could result in allergic reactions.”

Bathers are encouraged to be vigilant in the water and to take anti-sting medication and antihistamines with them to the beach.

“In the absence of medication, urine is an ancient but effective remedy to neutralise the protein toxin,” Strydom said.

For information visit the web site http://sajellywatch.uwc.ac.za. — The Herald

SOURCE: www.dispatch.co.za

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