Sunday, 28 July 2013

A Danger Below the Surface

For a moment as we paddled past it looked like seaweed floating just beneath the surface, but a second glance told us it was a jellyfish, one of the largest we've seen in some time.  We circled back warily, looking for it amongst the reflections of a calm sea, watching that we didn't pick up any of its tentacles on a paddle - people have been stung when the movement of the paddle slides the stinging tendrils down onto their hands.

It was one of the largest Lion's Mane jellyfish we'd seen in some time, some 18" across the bell, and with a mass of orange-brown arms below.  Below the arms were the thin and much lighter-coloured tentacles, which disappeared away into the depths - these can be several feet long.

Our family swims regularly off the beaches along Ormsaigbeg, and seeing this monster won't change that - but it does make us more aware that we need to look out for them, and be ready in case someone is stung.  The NHS (here) advises, You can treat most jellyfish stings yourself. However, dial 999 to request an ambulance if there are severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain or if a large or sensitive area of the body (face, genitals) has been stung.

If someone has been stung by a jellyfish, remove any remaining tentacles with tweezers or a clean stick (wear gloves if they are available).

The affected area should be soaked in vinegar for between 15 to 30 minutes to prevent further toxins from being released. If vinegar is not available, rinse the area with alcohol or seawater (not fresh cold or hot water). Do not rub the area or apply ice. You should also ignore any advice that you may have heard about using urine because it is unlikely to help and in most cases it may make the situation worse.

Apply shaving cream to the affected area and use a razor blade or credit card to remove any nematocysts (small poisonous sacs) that are stuck to the skin.

On the matter of emergency treatment, the Diary would like to draw attention to a very warm "Thank You!" from Sheila Goodall addressed to those who helped her when she fell on the Ormsaigbeg shore last Thursday - read it here.


  1. From Charles & Rita:

    Hi I would just like to thank the ambulance crew and surgeon that helped my partner Charles Cameron Clark on the 20/7/13 after being stung by a lion's mane jellyfish around his arm at Sanna beach .

    He is very grateful and wishes to thank all the ambulance crew and doctors that helped him. They were some of the kindest people he has met.

    He is still a bit unsteady on his feet and the hospital in Glasgow has said it may take him fully a month to recover.

    It was a pleasure visiting Kilchoan, we were on our holidays and we had a lovely time.

    Kindest regards
    Charles and Rita

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