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Box Jelly Fish Dangers

A 5-year-old friend of mine got a nasty sting from one of these last weekend at Hamlet Street in Carolina Beach. I don’t know about him, but I would have cried like a baby. Following a sting, vinegar should be applied for a minimum of 30 seconds. Acetic acid, found in vinegar, disables the box jelly’s nematocysts that have not yet discharged into the bloodstream (though it will not alleviate the pain). Vinegar may also be applied to adherent tentacles, which should then be removed immediately; this should be done with the use of a towel or glove to avoid bringing the tentacles into further contact with the skin. The arrival of the Box Jellyfish close to the beach prevents swimming in the Surf unless the beaches have the protective stinger nets installed or you wear a purpose designed swim costume.

box jelly fish (zum Glueck nicht gesehen)

Their stings can be lethal. And some people are more susceptable to the sting of any jellyfish than others. There is a distinct season (usually from October and lasts until April) Unless the beaches have protective stinger nets installed, it’s best not to swim off the beaches. You can also wear a purpose designed swim costume that protects you from the jellyfish tentacles.

Each tentacle has about 5,000 stinging cells, which are triggered not by touch but by the presence of a chemical on the outer layer of its prey. Do not rub the sting area with hands, a towel or sand. If breathing stops begin resuscitation. The power of the cubozoan sting is often compounded because box jellies are known to swarm.

Group of us with all the snorkeling gear

It was first thought to have been the Portuguese man-of-war, but as most stings from the Portuguese man-of-war are usually accompanied by a sighting it became obvious that it was probably something else. As death occurred sometimes within 2 to 3 minutes, researchers began to search for another culprit. She said those susceptible to allergic reactions to stings would probably be in the most danger. Diving in on top of them has caused many stings-not allowing the jelly fish a chance to get out of the way.

ok..  here we go

The Chironex fleckeri is the most famous of the Box Jellyfish due to its large appearance and deadly sting. The venom from one of these creatures is strong enough to kill up to 60 humans in as little as 3 minutes from just one of its up to 60 tentacles. These tentacles are armed with up to 5,000 nematocysts, or rather the stinging cells. These stinging cells are like tiny poison darts which are buried inside the flesh of each tentacle, along the entire length. The arrival of the Box Jellyfish close to the beach prevents swimming in the Surf unless the beaches have the protective stinger nets installed or you wear a purpose designed swim costume.

Resort jetty @ Airlie Bch

If no vinegar is available use urine, apart from Box jellies and Irukandji. Ask a mate for a golden shower! If swimming at a beach where box jellyfish are known to be present, a bottle of vinegar is an extremely useful addition to the first aid kit. For some as yet unknown reason, acetic acid, found in vinegar, disables the box jellyfish’s stinging cells that have not yet shot into the bloodstream (though it will not alleviate the pain).

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Dave Jackson November 25, 2008, 1:08 pm

    Hi Ron,

    On your site you mention relief – but Stingmate doesn’t stop any pain that has been already inflicted by the stingers, right?


  • Ron Adley..StingMate November 25, 2008, 1:03 pm

    New First Aid Gel product on the market for jellyfuish stings has proven effective….Lidocaine free…all natural active incredients include acetic acid and vinegar….

  • Mickey December 14, 2008, 10:25 pm


    I was in the Philippines and was stung on the face and chest. I had no vinegar but had plenty of Gin. I poured it on my face and chest then used my gals nickers as a rag( as they were cotton) poured more gin on the nickers and she rubbed my face and chest for about ten minutes. I also had a few big swallows too!! But after a couple of hours there was no pain and the redness was almost gone……


  • Ron Adley December 15, 2008, 2:41 pm

    Hey Dave…sorry for the delay in answering your question…StingMate offers immediate relief…after application, in the unlikely event any irratation continues, apply a hydrocordisone cream if you wish….however, feedback tells us that our product works and the pain is completely relieved in almost all cases…hope this helps…thanks and take care…

  • Fredda July 12, 2009, 1:14 am

    Hi there I have been stung by a box jellyfish in 100 Islands, Pangasinan, Philippines last April 14 (it was lounging around in the shallow part of the water) and I recommend DON’T WET THE AFFECTED AREA WITH freshwater, it gets more painful. i think it stimulated the poisons to fire more toxins inside my body!

  • Leo June 13, 2010, 1:59 am

    DO NOT USE ALCOHOL! Think twice about using urine as well. No offence, but I advise doing some more thorough research.

  • Leo June 13, 2010, 7:37 am

    DON’T USE ALCOHOL! I’d think twice about using urine too. No offence, but I advise doing some more thorough research. http://lifeinthefastlane.com/2010/04/toxicology-conundrum-010-2/

  • christina November 2, 2010, 6:23 pm

    Have a look at this interview with a Marine Stinger Expert from the James Cook University in Cairns Queensland Australia. Contrary to what a lot of people think dangerous Jelly Fish are very rare you have more chance of being hit on the head by a coconut than a sting by a jelly fish


  • christina November 2, 2010, 6:24 pm

    Ps Say hi to Caroline in Zermatt from us

  • Arice December 17, 2010, 12:09 am

    Hi! I got stung by a box jellyfish 10 days ago. I think the prompt application of vinegar arrested the spread of the venom, but I still have very ugly marks. I didn’t think it was serious until I got to the doctor and he told me my feet will stay swollen for two weeks. I thought that was the worst part. Then on the 6th day after I got stung, the swelling lessened but the areas around where the tentacles touched my skin got livid and extremely itchy. It actually looks worse now than when I was newly stung. I decided to do some research and I found out that the jellyfish that stung me was very deadly. I was told that if they stung you on the pulse or on the navel, you could die, but nobody told me that being stung just anywhere on your body could release the venom in your blood.

    Before this ordeal, I never considered jellyfish a threat, just some inconvenience that make some beaches very itchy to swim in, but now I’m thinking of investing in a wet suit the next time I go swimming in saltwater, if I do that at all. My feet and lower legs look a fright and my dermatologist told me that it might take some time for my skin to get back to normal.

    Btw, I got stung at Twin Lagoon in Coron, Palawan, Philippines. The guides didn’t even think to warn us about jellyfishes in the area, and around the Internet it’s known that jellyfishes abound there.

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