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What are jellyfish and how can you avoid being stung?

📅 August 01, 2022

⏱️ 2 min read


Jay Vitale


Fun fact, those colorful floating creatures we call Jelly Fish are not actually “fish”. Sure, they live in the ocean, but these invertebrates are actually more closely related to coral than fish (which have bones). The top of Jellies look like a dome and they have tentacles that hang down below their bodies. They can move short distances by bellowing their umbrella shaped body, but mainly they move with the flow and let the ocean currents do the work. Due to all of this they tend to travel together in large “blooms”.

What about those clear puck-like discs we usually see floating or on shore? No worries! Those are actually the remains of dead jellies and are completely harmless.

If you happen to see color in that dome then that could be active venom. Even though it may not be very strong, it’s best to keep away.

How do they hunt or look for food?

As pretty as they are to look at, Jellies can be quite dangerous. Jellies trap prey by shooting out small harpoon-like darts that inject venom into their prey. Don’t be too worried though, these hunters aren’t great shots. They don’t target prey and nor do they fire at will. When fish or other small animals make contact with their tentacles, this triggers the stinger to fire. So, if you don’t get to close and make contact, you should be just fine.

What’s the Risk?

Jellies can be relatively harmless. The moon jelly for example, is the most common in the world and does little to no harm to humans. They can also be incredibly dangerous like the Portuguese man-of-war or deadly Box Jelly. Their venom is said to be 100 times more powerful than that of a Cobra and could kill an adult with one sting. Keep in mind that the Jelly’s Tentacles are much longer than their body, so even if the Jelly looks far away you may still be in danger.

How to Stay Safe?

In the event of any kind of dangerous marine life the lifeguards will be keeping people a safe distance away. If you see something concerning, always report it to help the lifeguards out. Should you see jellies in the water then please stay away. With hundreds of different types of Jellies in the ocean it’s too difficult to know which could be harmful and it's best not to take the chance.

If you get stung by a Jelly, get out of the water immediately. Hot water can help negate the discomfort from the venom, but this may remain painful for several hours. Over the counter pain medicine like Tylenol or ibuprophen can be helpful. If you develop any kind of rash, signs of infection, or if you develop new or worsening symptoms seek medical care immediately.

Swim at your Own Risk

Beaches and oceans are dynamic natural environments.  Crowd conditions, currents, waves, wild animals, and other water and beach conditions can rapidly change. The risks and conditions shown on this site are informational only and not always real-time.  Actual conditions may differ.  Lifeguards are not always on duty or available.  Always remain aware of your surroundings and exercise due care for your own safety and the safety of others around you. 

Always check for water warnings or check with a lifeguard before you swim.

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