Caution on jellyfish bloom
Published on: Monday, April 22, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The jellyfish season is back and is expected to last until May, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry. 

 Its Minister, Datuk Junz Wong, said the Department of Fisheries Sabah has deployed a team from the Fisheries Biosecurity Office in Likas, led by Dr Shuhadah Mustapha, to investigate the blooming jellyfish population in Tanjung Aru beach. 

 Wong said this in a statement, Sunday, in response to reports of blooming jellyfish particularly in the west coast of Sabah since early this year. 

 He said the team was able to tentatively identify one dominant jellyfish known as “obor-obor pasir”, jellyfish with small black spots. The tentacles of this species can cause itch and/or allergic reactions upon contact with skin causing inflammation and swelling on affected body parts of a victim. 

He said the blooming could be due to the favourable weather conditions, adding that the jellyfish season is expected to persist throughout the dry and hot weather condition, probably until May this year.

 He advised the public to wear full body swimming suit whenever possible to prevent being stung. 

Wong also advised the public to refrain from picking up dead jelly fish as it may still have live nematocysts that can still release toxins (even after they have dried up).

“The public should comply with warning instructions and not go into the water where red flags are erected on swimming areas to warn swimmers on the presence of jellyfish. 

“Above all, you should stay vigilant at all times in the sea,” he said. 

 Symptoms of box jellyfish include excruciating pain upon contact and cardiac and respiratory arrest can occur within minutes. There will be many large red welts marks in the body where there has been contact.

 His Ministry also provided a list of guidelines on what to do when stung by box jellyfish as follows : 

Get out of the water immediately.

Pick any tentacles you can see off your body with a towel. Don’t rub the area.

Do not try to scrape the tentacles off (with hands, wet sand or any item, or apply pressure), as this will trigger more stinging cells to fire venom into the body.

Douse the area profusely with vinegar for at least 30 seconds as this stops any un-discharged stinging cells. Vinegar (3 per cent to 10 per cent aqueous acetic acid) may be used as a common remedy to help with box jellyfish stings. Flushing with vinegar is used to deactivate undischarged nematocysts to prevent the release of additional venom.

Fresh water is not usually used if the sting occurs in salt water, as this may cause the nematocysts to fire more venom.

Contact medical staff as soon as possible, urgent medical assistance will be required. Some may advise you to rub sand on wound or wash with urine. Don’t do it, as these unproven measures can worsen the situation.  Rubbing wounds, or using alcohol, spirits, ammonia, or urine may have strong negative effects as these can encourage the release of venom.


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