Jellyfish season in Israel has begun.
Beach goers beware!
Image: Fancycrave - The Nomadic Jellyfish enjoys warm water. Common in the Indian Ocean, the Nomadic Jellyfish migrated through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea in the 1970's
Jellyfish sightings been reported along Israel's entire coastline.
The Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Center is responsible for informing the public of jellyfish activity along Israel's shoreline. Summer swarms of jellyfish, like the Nomadic Jellyfish (Rhopilema nomadica)are often spread along Israel's coastline; from Ashkelon to Nahariya. In the summer months, jellyfish stings are regularly reported on the southern, central and on the northern beaches of Israel, where bathers describe “stinging waters” nearshore. Offshore jellyfish clusters can reach a size of 300-400m.
One of the most common species in the Gulf of Eilat is the Golden Moon jellyfish – Aurelia – which arrive in Eilat during the spring season in gigantic swarms
The Nomadic Jellyfish is light blue in color and can be confused with a 'nylon' grocery bag floating in the water.
Nomadic jellyfish have filaments covered in venomous stinging cells which ares designed to paralyze their prey- plankton and fish. In humans the sting can cause very painful injuries.
Doctors at Tel Hashomer Hospital are warning the public to take care this summer. The stings and burns from jellyfish are the worst recorded. More people are requiring hospitalization than ever before.
Urine, sea-water, vinegar or Fenestil? What is the best way to treat the sting?
There are varying opinions; the 24 hour poison center at Rambam Hospital suggest washing the sting with tepid, running water for 20 minutes, scientists at The University of Haifa say that treating the sting with vinegar actually makes it worse. Vinegar works well on Box Jellyfish. Box Jellyfish are generally not found in the Mediterranean. What about urine - a commonly suggested remedy? No, it's a myth.
Some recommend washing the area with clear seawater (but if the water is infested with minute jellyfish, this method is useless).
If the sting covers a large area, if swelling is serious or you have an allergic reaction, seek medical treatment immediately. Antihistamines may be prescribed by a doctor.
Emergency first-aid, here is what you can do
- Wash the area carefully with water. Do not rub.
- Apply a mixture of equal parts water and baking soda for two minutes - this will block the firing of any stinging cells left on the skin.
- Remove residual tentacles and the baking soda with the edge of a plastic credit card
- Apply a cold pack (a plastic bag with ice, or even a cold soda can wrapped in a piece of fabric or a shirt) for 5-15 minutes
- In pain persists, reapply the cold pack for another 5-10 minutes.
- Consult a doctor and ask for appropriate treatment
- If you get stung in or around your eyes, seek medical attention immediately. Call 101 for assistance or the Poison Control Hotline at Rambam Hospital for advice.
The end of the jellyfish season
Jellyfish season in Israel usually ends late in July or toward the middle of August. Some say that jellyfish season coincides with the days before Tish B'Av, when swimming is forbidden.
- The collective name of a group of jellyfish is a bloom, smack or swarm
- The lifespan of a jellyfish is 2 - 6 months
- Only 5% of the jellyfish is solid matter
- The common Hebrew term for a jellyfish is 'Meduza'.
If you are in Eilat, visit the aquarium and take in the many varieties of meduzot in the jellyfish pool from a very safe distance.