Majestic underwater, the jellyfish is no less a nightmare for swimmers. This soft-bodied animal intrigues science as much as it annoys vacationers. Many myths surround this marine animal, such as the fact that a dead jellyfish can still sting. But should we really be wary of it? Here is the answer.
How to recognize a jellyfish?
This strange underwater beast appeared on Earth 650 million years ago. A true ballerina of the seas, the jellyfish is an underwater animal with a gelatinous body. It has no skeleton, no brain, no lungs, yet its complex system allows it to live and breathe underwater. The jellyfish is available in no less than 1,500 species around the world which are divided into 4 groups:
Cubomedusa: small cubic jellyfish with 4 very stinging hollow tentacles; Hydromedusae: medium-sized autonomous jellyfish, divided into 4 subcategories; Scyphomedusae: stinging jellyfish, more advanced than the previous ones and classified into 4 families; stauromedusae: fixed jellyfish, clinging to the seabed like an anemone.
The jellyfish takes several forms and is also found in different colors depending on the species. Some have only a cap and almost no tentacles, others have very numerous short gelatinous filaments and still others have a large umbrella as well as long tentacles and filaments. The smallest measure around a few centimeters and the largest can reach 40 m in length!
The jellyfish is a predator that paralyzes its prey using its tentacle filaments, also called cnidocysts. The majority of jellyfish are harmless (although the sting is painful), but those belonging to the Cubozoa species can be fatal to humans.
This animal, still poorly understood by scientists, however, seems to play a very important role in the ecosystem and perhaps even beyond.
Jellyfish invades French beaches
While it was rarely found in the coastal waters of France, the jellyfish arrives almost every year at the same time as the summer season. Due to global warming, the temperature of the seas and oceans has continued to rise in recent years, hence its presence.
But the most worrying thing is that they are also becoming more and more numerous. And as they only move in groups, it is not uncommon to see a whole group near the beaches. Even if the majority are harmless, jellyfish stings leave a very bad memory for the curious little ones who touch them or for those who come across them inadvertently.
The jellyfish stings and it’s very painful!
Jellyfish sting their prey and predators. They consider humans to be a potential danger, which is why they bite. Their sometimes numerous and translucent tentacles are impregnated with venom. When you touch a jellyfish, you will feel a slight sting, similar to a tiny electric shock. Then, the pain will begin to be felt and intensify to the point of feeling like a burn. This can last up to 30 to 45 minutes maximum. Redness at the point of contact will then be visible. Some jellyfish venoms have the ability to numb the affected limb.
In France, for the moment, no dangerous jellyfish has been recorded. But depending on the victims, the symptoms can also differ. For example, depending on the person’s age and medical history, the effects experienced may vary. It also depends on the amount of venom injected!
Some victims experienced nausea, headaches and even dizziness. Whatever happens, you can go to the nearest pharmacy in the event of an injection and consult a doctor if the symptoms are severe and persist.
The jellyfish stings in water, but also on land
Jellyfish generally sting in water, since this is their natural environment. However, it is also possible to get bitten on dry land! In fact, if while walking on the beach you come face to face with a stranded jellyfish, don’t touch it! Even without life, the jellyfish has the ability to remain venomous for many weeks! So watch your children, but also your dogs.
Actions to take in the event of a jellyfish sting
To avoid any problems, it is strongly recommended not to scratch the site of the bite. Instead, you can try to relieve yourself by rinsing the stung area with sea water. Get out of the water and cover the sting with dry sand, but don’t rub! This can bring up the venom. Repeat this back and forth until the symptoms disappear (this can take up to 30 minutes).
Contrary to urban legends, urine has no effect on a jellyfish sting, just like applying sunscreen, soda or ice, or even applying a tourniquet.
Next, take medicine if you really can’t stand the pain or it lasts too long. For a few days, apply an antiseptic to the area. Remember to disinfect the wound regularly so that it does not get worse (this sometimes happens).