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?
- 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.
- Use saltwater and rinse thoroughly. Fresh water and sand will cause further irritation.
- 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.
- 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!
The pictures on the news and internet about the plight of birds and sea creatures afflicted with the aftermath of encountering plastic disposable items and rubbish isn’t pretty, it isn’t warranted, and isn’t necessary. I will freely admit to being caught up in the daily grind and the convenience features I think I need to get by. I have my re-usable water flasks and recyclable items but don’t get me wrong, I forget them sometimes and when I’m thirsty I’ll grab the most convenient beverage container I can to end the dehydration. I get it. But I have a second chance in making sure the item I used gets recycled properly, and a third in choosing to spend a morning at the beach picking up discarded trash to help save our wildlife, reefs, water quality, and way of life.
We can help alleviate and eventually end this needless destruction by adopting the Power of 3 philosophy. Each time you visit a beach, whether it be on our islands or elsewhere, take 3 additional items of trash with you back to a trash or recycling receptacle. It doesn’t matter how big the items are. Every little bit counts. If everyone who visits our beaches takes the time to give appreciation back to the sea by picking up 3 refuse items, in conjunction with the use of biodegradable consumer materials, this problem can be an issue of the past. No really, it can. There is never a problem large enough to ignore. Only a need to start the resolution process with haste.
If you would like to do more than just adopt the Power of 3 as a practice, there are other like-minded groups that host beach clean up days on our islands. Surfrider Foundation at kauai.surfrider.org hosts several beach cleans a month on the island of Kauai and the Sierra Club of Kauai at sierraclubkauai.org host similar clean ups that include hiking.
Turn your vacation into an experience and help celebrate the beauty of the islands while making life long memories for yourselves and generations to come. Adopt the spirit of aloha. Mother nature will thank you.
Mahalo and Aloha- Patti and the Seafun Gang
The beauty of the ocean is what draws people to our island. Our kindness to the ain’a or land is how we thank the universe for providing us with such beauty. The spirit of aloha is what captures our imagination and helps us to continue to flourish alongside nature’s exquisiteness.
The Hawaiian Islands and Northwest Hawaiian Archipelago have been plagued by trash and debris washing up on our shores for many years. A study done by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the removal of 57 tons of trash from the Northwestern Islands in 2014 alone. Some of this refuse was believed to have been from the catastrophic Japanese Tsunami of 2011 but Hawaii’s Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR) and North Pacific Marine Science Organization found that plastic items retrieved from our beaches were from various parts of the world and had likely been part of larger floating trash deposits caught in the ocean’s currents.
How does this trash make its way into the ocean? From being careless with the way we handle our rubbish. Plain and simple. From our homes to our businesses to our leisure time on vacation, what we use as consumers for the sake of convenience and how we dispose of it makes a difference. A catastrophic one. One that we who live near our oceans and streams see on the daily when we choose to pay attention.