JellyFish Facts

Jellyfish In Caribbean

Jellyfish In Caribbean picture

Jellyfish In Caribbean

Caribbean is known for its beaches and is a favoured tourist destination. White sands and warm clear waters make the beaches a favourite spot for swimming and sunning. Although swimming is considered safe in these waters, one has to keep a look out for the jellyfish. Luckily the most poisonous jellyfish, called the Sea Wasp or the Box Jellyfish is not to be found in the Caribbean. But still there are a few which can give a nasty sting, which is quite painful.

The jelly fish is transparent, and is difficult to spot, especially when you are swimming. They have no brain and usually they are floating around in search of food, and their venom is intended to immobilize their prey. Their tentacles, are the part with the toxin, and when you accidentally brush past them you can get stung. Jellyfish are in profusion in certain seasons. In the months from March to June in the Caribbean region, the number of jellyfish is supposed to be at the highest. Even at such times the experts say, that the chance of you getting stung would be one in five thousand.

There are 200 known species of jellyfish and about 70 of them are considered to have a poisonous sting. The most commonly found jellyfish in the Caribbean is the tiny thimble jellyfish. It is half inch long, and one inch in diameter. It feeds on crustacean plankton and barnacle larvae. It swims intermittently and then stays motionless with its tentacles extended to capture food. The tentacles have the numerous stingers called nematocysts. When anything touches the tentacles, the nematocysts start acting like small syringes and start injecting toxins.

The Mexican Caribbean coast has a dense population of Thimble jellyfish, from late January to early June. Contact with the tentacles will cause a skin rash, called sea bather's eruption. These eruptions occur, on body areas covered with the bathing suit and places that are subject to rubbing like, armpits, inner thighs and neck. Symptoms are usually chills, fever with nausea and headaches and will occur after 1 to 24 hours after the contact. People are advised not to scratch the affected areas as it may cause skin infections. Applications of creams and lotions are advised and in certain cases antihistamines can be taken under medical supervision. Swimmers can take preventive measures like avoid wearing T shirts which will trap the Thimble jellyfish between the skin and the clothing, causing increased reactions. It is best to thoroughly wash a swim suit with detergent, if they are contaminated and the swimmer should not shower in fresh water as it triggers the stinging cells. When exposed to the tentacles it is best to apply vinegar as it neutralises the nematocysts, clinging to the skin.

The larvae of the Thimble jellyfish also called Sea Lice, cause skin rash. These larvae are very difficult to see underwater and unfortunately you will only know about their presence when the swimmers and divers are covered in rash. They are most prevalent in the months of April through August, and this sea lice outbreaks are common in Caribbean and people of this region use a flag warning system to alert swimmers of this danger.

Learn more about Jellyfish, different Jellyfish Species, general Jellyfish Information, Jellyfish Pets and Jellyfish Safety

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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