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Box Jellyfish awareness
03-05-2011, 08:11 PM
Post: #1
Box Jellyfish awareness

Not a new topic but just a reminder as summer vacations will begin again soon.

The nasty sting of the Box Jelly Fish or Portuguese Man O War is kinda a nasty way to spoil your fun, if you plan to swim in the ocean. (see remedies using vinegar)
These pretty little fellas that find the ocean their home can be a nuisance. Everybody has to be somewhere. It just helps to know when to avoid them.
For whatever reason (and who knows why that is) they seem to congregate on the windward shores shallow waters on about the 7-12 days after the full moon. Why? Reproduction.
This is a guideline, not a fixed rule. It generally turns out true though.
Basically, the Box Jellyfish will appear as a semi translucent "hairnet" hovering in the water, perhaps the size of a dinner plate or less.
The Portuguese Man O War generally floats on top of the water and send it's tentacles out perhaps 50-100 feet from it's body and ends with a little purple bulb, much like a beginning tulip blossom only about half of the size.

Their appearance sometimes is related to the high tide also. For a number of safely reasons, swimming in those surf conditions are not preferred times anyway.
Full moon calendar for this year:

Remedy? If there is a clinic locally, it might be best.
Using vinegar is sometimes helpful but be cautious. White vinegar will sometimes help relieve the pain from the jellyfish but should not be used for a P M of W sting. An antihistamine such as Benadryl might help those stings. Identifying ? Difficult, especially at night. The P M o W may show a red ring around the sting on a leg for example. You may see the purple tentacles in the surf or on the sand beach.
If in doubt, you should try to find some professional medical assistance. Life threatening? That would be anyone's assessment. Have you ever been stung by a wasp or bumble bee? Much the same discomfort. It surely spoils a little one's interest in ever getting back in the water.

Now, intended to be scary? Naw. They don't jump out of the ocean to grab you!
If you want to walk on the beach, it is quite safe, just watch where you walk and maybe not in the water (and maybe not at night when you can't see), on those days.
If the water is full of people, you are probably safe too.
This is not just a Hawaii phenomenon.
Actually, the jellyfish is an amazing creature to watch.

You just might want to watch the full moon calendar and keep that in mind to insure a fun and safe vacation.

This is a sample calendar from the site above for the month of March, 2011, which suggests the time period that the little creatures might be present.
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03-05-2011, 11:43 PM (This post was last modified: 03-05-2011 11:44 PM by WonderinginWaikiki.)
Post: #2
RE: Box Jellyfish awareness
Hello Rich,
This is a very good thread with some great links to it. I actually learned a few things that I didn't know. To be honest,I haven't heard of a tourist since I moved here getting stung by a P M of War yet.
Before I moved here,I would always come here for about 10 days to three weeks for vacations each year and I had always planned my trips to arrive about a week before a full moon. Hawaii has the most beautiful full moon that you've ever seen. The second reason was because Waikiki Beach experiences the largest number of Box Jellyfish than anywhere else on this island I believe.
In fact,during this last Box Jellyfish monthly invasion, they found only 10 of them at Ala Moana Beach, one dozen at Sandy's and several hundred at Waikiki Beach. About six months ago, Waikiki Beach broke a new record for having thousands of these Box Jellyfish for more than four days straight. They lasted for a toral of six days and it resulted in several rescues of victims who ended up in a school of them while swimming in from the surf. I remember seeing the firetrucks driving through the park to get to the shore to help victims who were rescued by lifeguards but were stung so many times that they couldn't breathe.
Two of these victims weren't even tourists but local distance swimmers during a two day period,like around day 3 & 4 of the six. I will say this much though with confidence, we have the best lifeguards in the world today.
One thing that was mentioned in the above post was about walking on the beach at night during these monthly invasions. I rarely see the Box Jellyfish during the day but tons of them at night along the shoreline. They will just liter the beach from the pier to all the way to the beach at Hilton Hawaiian Village.
About 4am in the morning,there is two people that go out there with 5-gal buckets & tongs. They pick them all up plus collect water samples and then they are both tested.
I have some pictures of them here somewhere and they are the size of a cigarette pack,3/4 clear and 1/4 white at the top. If you are walking towards the light,you can see them if you are looking for them but if the light from the street is coming from your back,forget it.
Where they get real dangerous is when you have people that has been drinking all evening and then takes a walk barefooted on the beach when these things are littering the beach. It can spell real trouble if you have a serious reaction to them. So,again,this site has some serious benefits and information. Let's see if I can find those pictures.

Saigontodd Find all posts by this user
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03-06-2011, 08:57 PM
Post: #3
RE: Box Jellyfish awareness
The pics must be of baby jellyfish. All of the ones I have seen, have been 6-8 inches in diameter.
I have been fishing in the gulf of Mexico, when they were so thick that I was afraid I would tangle some of them up in my line.

I have swam with them and never got stung.

I want to emphasize that they are not a continual threat, or generally life threatening. I would compare them to a wasp or bumblebee sting. If a person were to end up in a whole school of them, it could be very dangerous.

I have just posted this as a awareness thing. I have an old phrase that I use over and over "never turn your back on the ocean".

Since I practically live in the water when in Hawaii, I do try to dodge the time that I might have to watch for them.
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03-07-2011, 02:00 PM
Post: #4
RE: Box Jellyfish awareness
Aloha Rich,
No,that's the normal size of them here in Waikiki,no smaller and no bigger. I don't know if you noticed,but I moved this thread here to conform with the forum subjects,no biggie.
I also want to add that this invasion doesn't happen every month here in Waikiki (maybe 3 months out of a year it doesn't) and I'm sure that tides do play a role in what beach they show up on. I don't know if water temperature has anything to do with it either.
Now,I don't know if it happens here,but I've seen surfers in California piss on each other to neutralize the sting and that really does work well but I don't think these pictured above pack as bad of a sting as they do elsewhere.
The last person that I saw get stung real bad required CPR due to the number of stings and she couldn't breathe. She was stung from the right side of her face,down her neck and chest and sides. The lifeguards were using spray bottles of vinager but she simply had too many stings. Go to any lifeguard tower after you are stung for two reasons,first aid if needed and they also want to keep records of stings for local Health agencies.
Box Jellyfish don't attack people at all,they just happen to have stinging cells that works as a defensive mechanism and only needs to come in contact with our skin tissue. Actually,you can safely pick them up with your hands without getting stung. It's the bottom of them that carries the stinging cells,but I'm not that brave,lol.
Bottom line is plan your vacations close to a full moon and watch for the lifeguard signs they post to let you know that the Box Jellyfish has arrived for a few days. Also,you mentioned about seeing many other swimmers in water during these periods and not getting sting is also a guide. Again,I believe the tides have a role in that too.
Again,this was a very good informational thread and we hope that everyone returns home with pleasant memories of Hawaii.
Saigontodd Find all posts by this user
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03-07-2011, 09:14 PM
Post: #5
RE: Box Jellyfish awareness
So far I have been lucky and have never gotten stung by a jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-war. I often times see them in the Ala Wai Canal 9 to 12 days after a full moon and I have seen plenty of them on the beach, such as this Portuguese man-of-war at Malaekahana Bay on Oahu's northeastern shore.

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03-08-2011, 05:53 PM
Post: #6
RE: Box Jellyfish awareness
You may already know , but for others, what is in your pic is actually the end of the tenacle, not the actual PMof War. Some of the tenacles reach out (I have heard) up to 150 feet from it's body. They look a lot like a large fishing line. You want to be careful that it doesn't get wrapped around your leg in the water. It is a sure sting.
The fish itself floats on top of the water like a ballcap.
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03-09-2011, 02:39 AM
Post: #7
RE: Box Jellyfish awareness
Maybe it is a good idea that I spend alot of time bar hopping in Hawaii instead of being at the beach all day! Big Grin
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03-09-2011, 03:33 AM
Post: #8
RE: Box Jellyfish awareness
(03-09-2011 02:39 AM)NoKaOiDude Wrote:  Maybe it is a good idea that I spend a lot of time bar hopping in Hawaii instead of being at the beach all day! Big Grin

Wow, that suddenly does sound like a good idea,lol.
Saigontodd Find all posts by this user
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03-10-2011, 08:06 PM
Post: #9
RE: Box Jellyfish awareness
Thanks mauibeachbum for pointing this out to me that the picture shows a tentacle of a Portuguese man-of-war, instead of the core of its body. I didn't know that. That makes it even more creepy. I wonder if the main body is still attached to this thing or if the tentacle got cut off.
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09-20-2012, 01:58 PM
Post: #10
RE: Box Jellyfish awareness
Is there any chance a sting from these can lend to lifelong medical issues like they have found Lyme Disease from ticks does? My mom would swear her health problems began after the sting she had when we lived there in 79-82. She would have been 33 at the time and carrying a few extra pounds but not grossly overweight yet.
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