Box Jellys

Are you on vacation or planning a vacation to Hawaii?

Here is something that is really important to know if you plan on hanging out or swimming at the beach. Box Jellyfish, along with lagoon and moon types, can pop up year-round along the South facing shores of the islands. Box Jellies in particular mate around the Full Moon and under certain tidal conditions at night. If the winds are right, it brings them onshore 8-10 days after this event.  When the high tides recede, it leaves them stranded on the beaches or shallow areas where people are normally found to swim. Since these events are based around the Full Moon, it can be a monthly occurrence. Since we experience Southeast winds more often in the Spring time, it’s good to take extra caution February through April.

What will happen if I am stung?

These creatures leave behind a red welt and painful experience for the person who is stung. Each tentacle is lined with barbed stinging cells containing a venomous toxin which are normally used to capture their prey. These barbed cells can puncture the skin and remain embedded causing irritation and burning sensations. It will be apparent right away if you have been stung. The good news is that the Box Jelly found in Hawaii are not as dangerous as other Box Jellies found in other parts of the World.

What do I do if I have been stung?

  1. Move to a shallower area. If the Jellyfish or parts such as tentacles remain attached to the skin, remove them with a stick or object and avoid touching the area as these cells can be spread.
  1. Use saltwater and rinse thoroughly. Fresh water and sand will cause further irritation.
  1. Visit the lifeguard station if there is one and notify them of the situation. They will provide you with a vinegar solution or similar remedy to help break down the toxins. It takes up to an hour before the pain will start to subside.
  1. If you start to have more serious symptoms such as loss of vision, difficulty breathing, palpitations or cramps, seek medical attention right away.

How can I avoid Jellyfish while on vacation?

Unfortunately, it is something that is not completely avoidable but there are ways to reduce your risk. Any beaches with a lifeguard tower will post warning signs to inform the swimmer’s if there have been incidents or sightings of jellyfish in the area. You can always talk to the lifeguards prior to entering the water even if there are no signs posted. As a general rule, it is recommended to check the conditions and occurrences at local beaches before entering the water as a safety precaution. Packing a small bottle of  50/50 vinegar-water solution and wearing a rash-guard are two ways in which you can be proactive and prepared for situations like these.

Stay safe and enjoy the water!